Change, change management, a very topical theme as it is a daily experience in today’s business world however personal change, changing oneself is another matter, one that we do not tend to rush into. In an earlier article I talked about self-awareness and gave some suggestions to start this journey of self-discovery and self-awareness usually leads us to personal change.
By having a better knowledge of who you are, you are most likely to discover aspects that do not help you being at your best professionally. It is a tough realisation especially if it comes through feedback and it is likely that you will “resist” integrating the information. This is normal, our mind is formatted to protect us from perceived “aggressions” and feedback (even if done constructively) can be perceived as such. And if you made the realisation yourself, that won’t make it easier to swallow, and the temptation to go into victim-mode is BIG.
So what do you do? There is a simple process (I did not say easy!) you can set up. This process is done in 4 steps and is inspired by the work of Gay Hendricks.
FACE IT – ACCEPT IT – COMMIT – TAKE ACTION
- Face it: I look at the given situation I’m in or I hear the feedback I get. There is no place for judgment, only facts
- Accept it: After analysing the facts in my possession I accept the situation. This allows me to draw constructive conclusions. Accepting allows me to get the “nuggets” with which to work on my development.
- Commit to change: These “nuggets” are useless unless I decide to commit, and that is to commit to making the necessary changes. The changes that will help my personal and professional development. This is an important step because you have to be honest with yourself, some changes can be hard to live with, am I willing to do it?
- Take action: Steps 1 to 3 are just words if you do not get into action. It is key to have a plan, tactics, tools and steps if you want your commitment to change to become a reality. Having the practical and/or moral support of a colleague or relative can be a good idea. Ensure you measure the change, not only will you be more motivated but it will also have a positive impact on your self-esteem (I do what I say, I am fully capable)
Here is an example showing how this process can take place:
Julie has received several feedbacks stating that her colleagues did not feel they were being heard, being understood. As for Julie she feels that she is not always well briefed and that it has embarrassed her on several occasions during key meetings. Also, her partner often tells her (half-)jokingly that she does not listen to him and that he has to constantly remind her of their weekend plans.
Julie takes this information on board and and examines it in a neutral way and without blaming anyone. She faces the situation: her colleagues do not find her listening skills optimal and she does not always have the necessary information to do her job. Interestingly her partner also says that she does not seem to listen when he speaks to her.
After reflecting on several examples and seeking clarification with her partner and a some of her colleagues, including both when things go well and when things go wrong, Julie accepts the situation: her listening skills could be improved.
Julie realises that by listening better she could do her job better, be more efficient, avoid embarrassment in front of the senior team and, last but not least, seriously improve her relationships with her colleagues. Julie decides to change her behaviour, she commits to this change. Better, she asks her partner to point out to her when she “switches off”!
Julie thinks about different tactics that she can put in place to improve her listening skills, she chooses 2 and decides to introduce additional ones in a few weeks. She also decides to ask for feedback from her colleagues in a month to see if they notice her improved behaviour. Julie takes action.
The process is simple however there are 2 essential ingredients
– A sincere desire: Let’s be honest, this “sincere desire” comes more often than not from an unpleasant situation (stormy meeting with a colleague or “not so great” feedback from your boss). That does not matter, from the moment you get a sincere desire, you say to yourself: “There is something there and I want to explore it as I am committed to go up to the next level”
– Non-judgment, towards yourself and others: In the example that I used Julie could easily have fallen into 2 traps. The first is to judge herself negatively: I am incapable, I do not listen to people, I will never get the senior position I aspire to etc. etc. The second is to get into a victim position: they’re all stupid, I’m misunderstood, their communication skills are c**p. Neither leads to taking action therefore bringing about the needed change, Julie could not have done the analytical work that led her to a solution. She would have remained in the victim-villain vicious cercle, not very constructive.
As I said in the beginning it’s simple but it’s not easy. To face a less than glorious aspect of yourself, to accept it and to make the necessary changes to improve are important steps in strengthening your self-esteem and developing your leadership for more success in your career.
It is a choice that speaks volumes about the path you have taken, that of a Leader who’s determined to become the best version of herself.
The women I work with have the courage and commitment to follow this process. Their leadership is reinforced day after day and they are an inspiration for those who have the chance to work with them.
I hope this article inspires you to “accepting to change” and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.