Insight During Change
noun noun: insight
the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing.
Insight (also often referred to as self-awareness) is the ability to objectively understand what makes you do what you do. Insight can be a powerful tool during change and even more so as a Change Leader.
Insight is developed, first and foremost, by taking time for personal development. The core capability is being able to monitor your own emotions and reactions (Resilience link: Emotional Regulation). It allows you to know and understand your strengths and weaknesses as a (Change) Leader, and also helps you uncover what your triggers and motivations are. Understanding your own methods of emotional regulation will help you create better self-awareness into how you can improve, and of course, with better insight, come better leadership behaviours and ultimately, stronger relationships. (Resilience link: Self-Confidence)
When leaders (Change Leaders in particular) lack in the area of insight, it can come across as arrogant and robotic; I've seen this time and time again on projects. Behaviours that show a lack of insight might include things like: leveraging inappropriate channels for stakeholder management (read: gossip), using too many buzz words in presentations (inflation of self), being inflexible and leaning into a specific methodology, or starting within an organization, behaving as though you're above the rules or at the top of the pecking order because you're deemed to be an "expert".
Don't do those things (or anything that looks or sounds like them either!) Behaviours like those show a significant lack of insight on your purpose as a (Change) Leader in an organization!
If service is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you.
I've developed my levels of insight over the years through learning lessons (I never learn the same lesson twice, especially if it caused me grief in any way). I have habitual ways of connecting with clients when I start fresh, they include a few things: "The Talk" and connection opportunities (sharing personal stories and insights between one another), and in addition, I often let them know that I see myself as a guest in their house, and if they want me to take my shoes off when I come in the door, I'll do just that. I influence what I know I have the ability to influence - there are A LOT of hills to die on in change, and my levels of insight have helped me determine which ones are critical to my success, and which aren't. I don't profess to be an expert in my clients' areas of business and I have no problem telling them that! I'm an expert in what I do, and that's what they've asked me to come in and be. It's their job to teach me what I need to know about their culture, people and organization to help their projects be successful. I place that responsibility on them to help them gain insight into my needs as their Change Leader.
There are some skills you should try to master in order to become highly insightful and service driven (Change) Leader, and they include:
Empathy - This is a no brainer guys! You have to be willing to put yourself in someone else's shoes in order to meet their needs.
Confidence - Be able and willing to stand by your expertise and have the confidence to ask questions when you don't know what something means or need clarity.
Mindfulness - Find a way to stop "multi-tasking" (this isn't actually a thing, you cannot do two things at once and do either of them well - remember, the person who chases two rabbits goes hungry!)
Patience - Let yourself go back to empathy, or perhaps even consider someone else's learning style as you begin to roll something new out or introduce a new way of thinking when it comes to helping an organization manage change. Not everyone thinks or sees the world through your lens (This was something I reeeeaaallllllyyyyyyy had to learn the hard way early on in my Change Leadership career - it sucked.)
Kindness - Folks .. it's just kind to be kind. Kindness, especially in change, goes a very long way. It enables people to connect with you and helps you establish deeper insight, because people won't be fearful if they know you're open to their feedback, regardless of what they're telling you. Don't take or make it personal if that's not what was intended.
So how do you get better at these things? Well - practice makes perfect!
Keep an open mind - Be curious! One of my favourite lines from Maklemore's song, Growing Up is: "The quickest way to happiness learning to be selfless; Ask more questions, talk about yourself less." If you talk less about you and more about other people, it shows your open mind and welcomes participation and support, which brings more .... yep, you guessed it - insight!
Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses - Take the time to evaluate your day and the responses people provided you; are people meeting their deadlines? Are they coming to you with problems to help them solve? Are they making eye contact during difficult conversations? Remember, non-verbal feedback is roughly 93% of how we communicate. Soak on that one!!
Have good boundaries - A (Change) Leader needs to be focused on the right thing at the right time. Make sure you have good boundaries in place so you have the right level of interaction with your teams and aren't blurring the lines (I've seen blurred lines on programs of change; they can be detrimental and life altering for some people! Basically, don't pee where you eat.... if you know what I mean..!)
Embrace your intuition - Trust your instincts and decision-making (Resilience link: Problem-solving), focus on what you can control and don't second guess yourself. (Follow your gut!) Lean into coaching and other supports as you need to enhance this area of leadership.
Be disciplined - Great leaders have great self-discipline and can focus on extrinsic tasks in order to be able to appreciate and enjoy the intrinsic roles within leadership.
Understand the impact - Your actions have a ripple effect - don't act without considering the reactions or impacts to others.
Own your sh&% - Be humble and be kind. If you make a mistake, take credit for it as you would if you were receiving a positive outcome. Be accountable to your actions. It demonstrates exemplary insight and leadership. We're human, apologies exist for a reason - the ability to apologize with positive intent to move forward is so important.
Seek feedback - It's hard to become or stay insightful if we never receive feedback from anyone else. Feedback is hard - hard to give and hard to receive. If you want to improve as a leader, avoid your own natural bias toward being a super hero and seek input from others - it's like doing cardio - it'll only hurt for a few minutes and then you become a better version of yourself.
Have questions or want to learn more about how to become a more insightful (Change) Leader? Reach out, a call doesn't cost a thing!