Posts tagged ‘leadership’
In my leadership education program we had a workshop about values. Values are the underlying base for all our actions and choices. At least in an ideal world. When work life is more and more hectic and companies are aiming for bigger savings and productivity, for example nurses may have to settle for something less in their quality of work than they would hope for based on their values. It’s that conflict that makes people burn out.
Anyway, we had a quite useful exercise in finding out for our own values, a long list of questions. The idea is that first you describe some of your action by answering a question (What do you spend a lot of time doing?). Then you try figuring out WHY is that important to you. You continue to ask yourself until you get to the bottom of your reasons of you’re doings or likings.
What do you spend a lot of time doing? -working out. Why? -I enjoy working out, it makes me feel good and whole. Also I feel more confident and healthier. Underlying values might then be: pleasure and health.
What are you afraid of losing? -my sanity. Why? It would be horrible not to be able to think clearly and make good choices for myself. The underlying value might be: sense of control.
What would you do if you had the time? -I would read more. Why? -I love reading, it makes me relaxed, offers new perspectives on life and is sort of a get away from my everyday life. I also enjoy and admire talented writers and I think language creates the reality. The underlying values might be: wellness, beauty and learning.
After we answered some ten or twenty questions we had to put down five of the most important values. I put down acceptance, health, kindness, sharing and making a difference. The exercise would have continued by having to find out with each two values which is more important and by that way ending up with just one, THEE most important value. I didn’t have the time to do that but I think my number one would be acceptance. As who you are. Whoever that is. 🙂 I think the world would be a better place if it was easier for us to take people as they are and let them be themselves.
I hope my top five values guide my own leadership in my everyday work.
Here’s a list of questions if you want to try this out:
- What do you spend a lot of time doing?
- In what do you spend a lot of your money? (food!)
- What are you afraid of losing?
- What would you do if you had the time?
- What kind of issues agitate you?
- What would you pay a hefty amount of money? (if I had the hefty amount I’d pay my mortgage)
- Try to remember a situation where it’s been hard to make a choice. How did you choose?
- For what would you be willing to make a sacrifice? (for my own or my closest ones’ health)
- Think of a good childhood memory. What was precious about it?
- Picture one of your dreams?
- Who do you respect? Why? (my mom)
- What did you appreciate in your upbringing? (being trusted in)
- What the most important in upbringing in general?
- What kind of features do you value in a leader? (seeing people’s potential)
- What do you value in a friendship?
- What would you say is a good workplace?
- What should be valued in work?
- What kind of issues are bugging you right now?
- What does success mean to you? (being accepted)
- In what are you ready to commit yourself?
- Based on what would you choose a co-worker?
- After doing what kind of thing you might say: “I did the right thing.”?
- What do you believe in? (people)
- Which is more important: justice or love?
- Think about a crisis or a change you’ve been trough. What did you learn from it?
- Which traditions do you value and want to cherish? (such that encourage my important people get together)
- What do you expect from people you’re dealing with? (good will?)
- What obligations do you have?
- What rights do you have?
- What makes you feel safe? (lying in the sunshine on a warm cliff in an island)
- What kind of behaviour do you appreciate? What kind of behaviour you don’t approve?
- Think about your current life. Without what could you live?
- When are you happy and balanced?
- What do you enjoy doing while feeling a bit guilty about it? (using the elevator instead of the stairs!)
One of my all time favorite TED Talks is the one by Dan Pink, in which he talks about motivation and incentives. Based on scientific testing it’s obvious, that after people make enough money to satisfy basic (by welfare state standards) needs they need something other than money to motivate them to perform their best. Money actually makes people to perform worse. (Suggest you listen the Talk! It also presents the “Candle Problem”, a classical example of functional fixedness.)
So to receive extraordinary results, we need fresh methods. Dan Pink lists these three qualities of intrinsic motivation the ones needed to create a efficient, inspiring and engaging work place:
- autonomy (the urge to direct our lives)
- mastery (the desire to became better and better in what you do)
- purpose (the yearning to do what we do in service of something larger than ourselves)
As an occupational therapist, mastery as a term is close to flow experience where the skills are just adequate to perform a task that is a bit tricky but still manageable so it engages the attention and motivates to solve it. Purpose is also in the center of occupational therapy: we work with our clients to able them to participate in their meaningful tasks so it goes without saying that our job needs to be meaningful as well. Of course, it’s a different thing is it. I believe that most of the time the work of an occupational therapist still is quite rewarding since we’re working with people with limitations and help them overcome them. But, one may always disagree and the lives are forever changing.
Our work is also pretty independent, so at least some degree of autonomy is achieved. Still, to empower people to act and perform on their full potential requires constant evaluation and development. That’s just what I’m trying to learn to do… Bit by bit, mastering my own task a leader. By the way, the autonomy of the job is a quality I highly respect: still it’s one that sometimes exhausts or overwhelms. It’s not easy to always be so organized, sometimes it’s wonderful to just get to told what to do!
Pink continues: “Management is great, if you want compliance. If you want engagement, self direction works better.” This is something to deeply consider as a head of a unit. How to able enough freedom to let people do what they do best the way they would do it in a clinical and strictly defined environment (a hospital)? There’s also a careful balance between equality and autonomy. Some people are willing or capable to work more autonomously than others.
(By the way, functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits the person to using an object only in the way it’s traditionally used (according to Wikipedia). That said the creativeness needed in our profession is an everyday struggle against functional fixedness. Creativeness is a key element of the therapy when figuring out the best way to perform tasks that have been complicated by different disabilities in a way that is acceptable for the client. I dare doubt, that occupational therapists would have any problems solving The Candle Problem… ;-))
I started in a leadership education program yesterday that is to go on for the next one and a half years. After a hard start of the week (especially Monday when I left my work keys home and was stressed and overwhelmed by too many work tasks) it was inspiring to get to meet new people and to just sit and learn about important things.
There’s been a shift in the leadership theories during the years and the focus in leading is more and more in the communication and interaction skills. The leader does not answer questions but asks them. Coaching leadership has replaced the old-fashioned stiff authority-based commanding. In everyday work, imagination, creativity and passion are necessary to truly create added value, as Gary Hamel states in his book Leading the Revolution.
Sounds like it’s finally time to grab out the real potential in everyone of us and cherish our individual strengths to enable healthier, happier and yet in the same time more productive work communities. It’s no longer a threat to not know everything yourself when you can rely on experts in you team. Like the actors say: helping other people shine at the stage makes yourself shine brighter. Comforting for a leader pretty green in her field. 😉