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The Well-Balanced Leader
INTERACTIVE LEARNING TECHNIQUES TO HELP YOU MASTER THE 9 SIMPLE BEHAVIORS OF OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP
By RON ROBERTS
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2012Ron Roberts
All rights reserved.
Who's in Charge Here Anyway, You or Your Ego?
Lisa, a director at a major government agency, got things done and made sure her highly talented staff did too. But few people felt comfortable talking to her—or even approaching her. This became such a problem that her boss suggested that she and her staff take a team building and communications course. The class included trust building games, energizers, and interpersonal communication exercises. After the last session, everyone was basking in the energy created by three days of positive, respectful interactions—laughing, joking, clowning around—until Lisa suddenly snapped:
"Time to get back to work!"
She then proceeded to rip into her staff, collectively and individually, sarcastically detailing recent failures and making demeaning comments. Within 10 minutes, she had wiped out three days of training.
Lisa was stuck:
* In her short-sighted ego-driven management mode which focused on her own needs to the exclusion of others
* In a state of near unconsciousness regarding her own supercritical nature and her extremely demotivating, negative impact on others
* In a constant state of imbalance, with the pendulum swinging toward manipulating others to get what she needed regardless of the outcome, and worst of all, not having any inkling of the extended effects on her team, unit, or the organization as a whole
Lisa's reaction is pretty typical of many ego-driven executives. Sometimes they're told to change; sometimes they themselves know they need to change. But even when their careers or departments are at stake, most find it difficult to change—even when the new, desired behaviors are spelled out to them by bosses in their annual reviews or during team building courses. The Well-Balanced Leader provides a proven methodology for achieving lasting change. It can help leaders change their behavior in a way that sticks.
Most leaders and even their subordinates resist change—because they're afraid of it, because it's difficult, and because their egos find it threatening. Ego-driven leaders are in downward spirals or never-ending loops that keep them and their subordinates stuck in situations that are not working. Organizations often resist change too by keeping outdated structures and processes in place and locking people into their existing roles, making individual change even more difficult.
Leaders' Natural Tendency Toward Imbalance
The Well-Balanced Leader helps leaders to manage and master the 10 most common unconscious tendencies (and traps) that those driven by their egos fall into:
1. Being continuously self-inflating
2. Being absorbed with their own needs and self-importance
3. Trying to gain unlimited power and control
4. Proving their amazing, unquestionable, natural intelligence
5. Demonstrating their total self-reliance (needing no one or anything)
6. Searching for absolute security and certainty
7. Avoiding pain and discomfort and seeking positive results only
8. Attempting to accumulate a maximum amount of material things, objects, and "toys"
9. Desperately seeking perpetual personal affirmation at all levels
10. Unrealistically comparing themselves to others
Ego (and seeking self-fulfillment) is often the true motivating force for many leaders and managers. The main issue again: Most leaders are not aware or conscious that they even have an ego problem because many of the above processes occur subliminally, without their knowledge. When average managers demonstrate the subtle ego-driven characteristics listed above, they are seldom aware of them (and often hire people just like themselves). On the other hand, when leaders practice the art of Egolibrium, they begin to observe themselves and can become highly aware of the ego's insidious subtle power. Great leaders humbly admit their flaws and dig them up as they would dig up weeds about to take root. They take counterbalancing measures to change immediately.
GUIDING PRINCIPLE It is not that which is seen but that which is unseen that causes leadership difficulties.
Analogy: Driving a Car
When driving, some people overidentify with their cars, especially on long trips. Is this you? In your mind, you the driver become the vehicle itself. If people cut you off or drive erratically or ding your vehicle in the parking lot, you feel they have done it to YOU. When drivers overidentify with their cars, horrible scenes—swearing, distasteful digital symbols, even physical blows—often ensue. How did this happen? The boundaries between the drivers and their cars became temporarily blurred.
The same things happen when we identify with our externally conditioned sense of self, which Freud called simply "the ego." The ego is how we mediate with the world. It's influenced by our environment, how we want people to think of us (and how we want to think of ourselves!), our work, our status, our education, income, and all our external achievements. We all have a higher, more authentic self that transcends the ego. This true authentic self is the person we really are at our best, when we are in tune with our universe and independent of others' judgments and external rewards. When we overidentify with our egos and let them direct our perceptions of who we are, we get in as much trouble as drivers who overidentify with their cars.
Getting Unstuck: Egolibrium
Egolibrium helps you get unstuck from the disabling power of the ego in an orderly systematic manner that empowers you by giving you three strengths:
1. Other-Centric perspectives: Paradoxically, remembering who you really are and thinking of others more often than yourself will allow you to be more in touch with your true authentic self. Other-Centric means realizing that you are not the center of the universe. Having a clear perspective about your importance (or lack thereof) in the bigger picture and larger scheme of things within your workplace is the sign of a great leader.
Great leaders are like astronauts circling the earth in a state of weightlessness, exposed to a rare perspective that reminds them how small they really are in the large scheme of the Universe, which in turn gives them incredible levels of objectivity and detachment.
2. Conscious awareness: Great leaders strive to become more conscious of what motivates and drives them and what determines how they relate to others. Such leaders are constantly moving from unconscious (total lack of awareness and controlled by ego) to fully conscious (in touch with the inner authentic self) in their thinking and their impact on others.
Some leaders are as unconscious of their egos as fish are of the water that surrounds them. Great leaders work to remain conscious of the influence of the invisible unseen ego.
3. Balance: Being in balance means thinking about the entire repertoire of responses available in any situation and being free to act on them as needed. It means not going to extremes (without careful consideration) and not acting either compulsively or automatically. Balanced leaders think about the results of their behavior before acting or speaking.
Striving to balance on a minute-by-minute basis helps leaders to toggle between being Ego-Centric and Other-Centric extremes in words, behaviors, and actions.&L
Excerpted from The Well-Balanced Leader by RON ROBERTS. Copyright © 2012 by Ron Roberts. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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