So much has already been written about the VUCA world we live in, and so it’s not news that leaders face daily complexity in decision making. Tried and tested methods of analyzing situations may no longer be applicable or take too long to be relevant.
Today I was chatting to a GM of a well-known multi-national; a remarkable, hard-working, resilient and self-aware, Asian Woman, about values and leadership. She is from a marketing background, but had taken on a global role that included manufacturing and operations.
In our discussion, she made an insightful comment that you mature as a leader by asking:
“Why am I here, and What am I doing?
But now as all leadership is situational, you must ask,
“What is this asking of me?
As an author and coach on Self-leadership, I loved the framing of this question. It immediately causes us to ‘step-back’ and reflect rather than react. It supposes that each situation is a learning experience and that we can respond to (Self-efficacy).
Self-awareness is probably the most important quality of a leader, and yet:
Self-awareness is like taking a shower – the effect is not permanent!
We must renew and develop our self-awareness on daily basis, and by asking “What is this asking of me?” of each complex situation, will achieve this renewal.
The quality of our lives can often be determined by the questions we ask ourselves. If we ask, “Why is this so hard?” Our brain dutifully provides a long list of reasons.
If instead, we ask, “What can I learn from this?” Or. “How can this make me a better person/leader?” Then our mind will turn to solutions.
A self-leadership strategy is to create reminders or cues for behaviors that support your intentions. This works because; whilst a change in mindset can drive new actions, sustainable change occur when new actions reinforce a mindset. I therefore highly recommend you consider writing this question on a post-it note, your bathroom mirror or have it engraved on a plaque for your desk.
In a previous post, I explored the ‘age-old chestnut’ of whether leaders are born or made. We can certainly agree that leaders are developed, and asking questions like this is a great practice for that development.