“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”, by Thomas Edison.
Successful people tell me they have gotten where they are with hard work. What does hard work really mean? You might be thinking, I work hard...many do. Yet we are not all presidents or CEOs, therefore, the “hard work” response has more meaning.
Consider using the iceberg analogy. Learning a profession at school as well as picking up new tools, techniques, methods, frameworks, etc. are all tangible and represent the tip of the iceberg. As long as we apply ourselves, these tangibles are not difficult to acquire. Below the water surface lies the rest of the iceberg which is made up of the intangibles. These intangibles are the soft skills or grasping the human interactions while creating relationships. This is the foundation of who we are, our beliefs, our ethics, and our way of doing things. No wonder the bottom of the iceberg is bigger than its tip! Creating a mindset where you continuously enrich yourself, mastering both the tangibles and intangibles is what "hard work" is all about. This is what I call the Infinity Leadership mindset!
No leadership trait which is considered a soft skill, or a human interaction will help you by just reading up on it or watching a YouTube video from an inspirational guru. It is learned by using it over and over again or going through iterations of “trial & error.” Mastering the trait means that it has become part of who you are. At that point, you unconsciously use the trait when the occasion calls for it.
Let us take for example the influential strategy of negotiations. First you read up on how to conduct a successful negotiation. Next you practice the trait to see if it actually works. You use the technique for the first time, and it works. Great! You store it away in your mind believing you can use it again in the future.
That is the mistake most of us make! We assume we fully understand after only one trial. It's important you continue your "trial & error" because doing anything only once does not make you an expert. Chances are the next time may yield different results. Keep in mind life cannot be planned step-by-step. The "trial & error" will remove the step-by-step mindset and develop your own way of handling negotiations. Of course, this transformation occurs when you are self-aware of your actions, so as to cater the technique to fit your style. If not, you will continue doing the technique as a robot, regurgitating a script, and getting no results because the other person sees right through you.
Self-awareness is difficult to grasp because it means you are looking at yourself in the mirror and being non-biased in your critique. Few of us take accountability, responsibility, and ownership of our actions. It’s so much easier to blame it on something or someone else. Remember the key is to be non-biased and not judgmental so you can learn the skill. The objective is to integrate the leadership trait into your DNA, developing your infinity leadership mindset. To do so you need to start by testing it out multiple times, while self-observing what went well and what could be done differently the next time. Since self-reflection can be difficult, which is why many turn to a coach or mentor to help them throughout this process. When things are bad, the coach or mentor are cheerleaders helping you through it. When things go well, they are making sure it becomes part of who you are. Having someone on the sidelines watching out for you will help you to stay focused and not quit.
The other piece in learning a leadership trait to develop an infinity leadership mindset is to be aware of others. This means you can read into a given situation and use the correct leadership skill that is required. This implies active listening, looking at the person's mannerism, and observing your surroundings to make sure it is the right time to talk.
The last thing you want to do is go to the person’s desk, see them on the phone, and wait anxiously in front of them, forcing them to end their call. This would setup a bad atmosphere. Another example is going to the bathroom, finding the person there so you corner them. Also, not a good place to have your discussion. The key is to set up a neutral setting which fosters the best environment. If you catch them off-guard or they seem overwhelmed, anxious, upset, or tired, your negotiations may not go well. Therefore, setting up a good atmosphere will help you focus on observing the person's reactions concerning the issue alone and not all the other bad environmental influences.
Think of this thought process described as the infinity symbol where you need to be consciously self-aware, aware of the other person's reactions and aware that you are entering into a situation. Making this process part of your DNA or genetic makeup in everything you do makes you acquire an infinity leadership mindset.
To recap the process of learning effectively:
Being consciously self-aware you are engaging in a situation where you will apply a leadership trait. You know the step-by-step theoretically. Now you need to incorporate it into your style of working.
Being aware of the situation in which you plan to use the leadership trait is important, so as to have the best environmental conditions set up.
Being aware of the other person's mannerism and engaging in the situation.
Executing the leadership trait.
Being consciously self-aware as you recount what happened, what went well, and what you need to change for the next time when you use the same leadership trait.
“Coaching and mentoring” is an over billion-dollar business. It’s not easy being non-partial to yourself when carrying out an auto-critique in learning a new leadership trait by yourself. Being consciously self-aware is a trait in and of itself that needs to be developed. As mentioned earlier, this is why many rely on coaches and mentors to guide them to achieve results efficiently. The last thing you want to do is conduct a “trial & error” process endlessly without developing the new skill.
The ideal condition is to practice the leadership traits in a safe environment where you learn the trait as well as develop your self-awareness. We understand it is a need and thus are in the process of developing an interactive course with coaching to help our clients. If you are interested, reach out and let us know.
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