“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
I really revere this approach to leadership where the focus is on developing others not just producing a positive outcome. Working in teams it is essential that everyone is improving and contributing in positive ways and this will only occur if the focus is on developing every element of the team not just isolated members, or yourself.
I have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to ensure that those around me have confidence in my leadership; endeavouring to lead by example, sustain a high work ethic, be reliable and trustworthy, enthusiastic and positive and communicate effectively.
Whilst these are all what I would consider effective leadership qualities, I have to remind myself that my energies should also be spent on inspiring others to see their own value.
I have always found perception an intriguing phenomenon. It probably stems from my studies in social anthropology at Uni but also as I get older, I reflect on how I viewed the world as a young person. We of course construct our own experience through how we interact and perceive the world, without getting too deep the reason I raise this is that just recently, a colleague gave me an enormous compliment and then continued to identify themselves as less adequate. This caught me by surprise, as I in fact hold them in very high esteem. It reminded me immediately of the quote from E.Roosevelt above, and impelled me to remind this particular individual of all the inspiring initiatives they had led and the challenges they had overcome. Sometimes we all need a champion to remind us of our successes. I need to make sure I do it more often.
I work with people………actual human beings!!
I think I have always been a fairly secure person even through adolescence. I think this confidence came from my parents who instilled a sense of “anything” is possible with hard work and determination. This is not to say that at times I don’t feel unprepared or unsure and even nervous and anxious, it’s just that I have the confidence to approach the challenge, knowing that I will be ok.
At school and university I would wonder why my peers would get so anxious about exams and tests. I was a good student, I loved school, I achieved well, but so did many of my classmates. My attitude was, whether I prepared well or not for the test, there was nothing I could do in the next hour or two or three that would make a difference to how much I’d prepared, so just get on with it. If I ‘d worked hard, I could feel assured that I had done everything I could to succeed. If I had not, then really I had no one to blame but myself and I should just give it my best shot!
So I guess in this sense I “own” my securities/insecurities. I “manage” them when it comes to my performance, because I know that it is not static but based on my own effort.
As I learn more about how to work with “people” I am starting to get better at identifying how my frustrations are more about me and my expectations (oh no) than I had imagined. Part of developing my emotional IQ means that I need to respect that whilst I may manage my insecurities fairly well, others wear them on their sleeve for all to see.
I am not threatened by the growth, perceptions, knowledge or brilliance of other people, in fact I want to be around it (circle of influence). It is what inspires me to be better. When my opinions are challenged or threatened, I want to know more. I see it as an opportunity to open up, to engage, consolidating my views or constructing a new one. I won’t sit quietly (still working on it), but instead try and thrash out why it is that I came to my understanding and how it can evolve.
This is where my new self-awareness is arising. Recognising insecurities, both our own and those of others, is an important part of interacting with others in an empathic, caring, and perceptive way. I would never want to intimidate or make another feel less valued. Whilst I have mountains of patience and understanding for my students, for adults I can tend to push it aside.
Whilst I see being challenged as an opportunity, others may see it as an attack and become defensive. It fails to be objective at this point and this is where I need to STOP because there is no moving forward under this stress. Instead I am taking this advice and I will see how it works..
It can disarm your insecure colleague if you compliment (she), especially at times when it would be easy to criticize… instead. Focus on at least several positive traits that your co-worker possesses, or something positive that (she) contributed, so that when (her) insecure behavior surfaces you can tame it before it has a chance to escalate. Honest compliments also serve to boost your colleague’s self-esteem so (she) is less likely to act defensively. – Anna Windermere