Archive | June, 2017

A Good Parent, a Good Leader?

25 Jun

What’s surprising is that the same skills are needed for both jobs!  Good leaders demonstrate the skills of supporting their employees and guiding them. This means that good leaders are present to employees who are either going through a difficult situation in their personal lives or are under great stress in the workplace. Enormous amounts of stress in the workplace can result from a hostile work environment with cliques or gossip among peers or with egotism displayed by supervisors. A good leader is aware of dysfunctional group dynamics and will seek to address this situation through mediation preferably by a third, unbiased professional. Egotism, on the other hand, is almost impossible to be aware of in oneself, and egotism — or narcissism — is a fairly common phenomenon in the workplace and in families. It would take the intervention of a person with higher authority to deal with a destructive narcissist.

However, supervisors can be open to allowing for some flexibility (even if it’s just 15 minutes of “flex time”) with stressed out employees. This bit of leeway plus having an open door and nonjudgmental attitude can go “yards” with helping employees feel understood. When an employee feels understood, s/he will demonstrate a “buy-in” for the current project and will experience a reward that may mean much more than a bonus! We at Beyond the Horizons Consulting would be happy to brain storm with you about the kinds of creative rewards which will result in a win-win outcome for leaders and employees!

Let’s now look at the skill of guiding employees. Guiding an employee can be applied to (1) skills sets necessary to the job; (2) proper ways of communicating, both in verbal and in written expression; and (3) the employee’s growth as a person. Nowadays skill sets are often learned through online courses or webinars. However, some skills are best learned hands-on or through demonstration by a supervisor. We need to remember that individuals learn on different channels — visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and so on. An apprentice chef, for example, may learn much more on the kinesthetic channel, checking out the texture of the foods s/he is preparing.

Teaching the proper way to communicate is likewise possible through online courses and webinars. However, we at BTHC also see that in-person workshops would have an important role. In these workshops the facilitator can demonstrate proper and improper communications through email, for example. Videos with actors demonstrating the verbals and nonverbals of person-to-person communication can also be powerful. What cannot be done in other learning formats is small group practice. Situations and roles are distributed to the participants, and their playing of the roles allows them to experience first-hand what is involved in a particular communication.

Probably the most difficult area in guiding employees is helping the employee grow as a person. Here the supervisor needs to hold the employee responsible to his or her job description. In addition,  a good leader needs to “hold an employee’s feet to the fire” in terms of making the employee accountable for behaviors the employee has agreed to. Guiding an employee also involves making available resources for them to learn new skills and encouraging them to take advantage of such opportunities.

In the workplace today we are faced with a new generation of employees — the millenials. The millenials are in their early twenties and have largely grown up with only a measured amount of support BUT little to no guidance in their lives. (This is the crucial connection between leadership in the workplace and leadership in the family!) Their parents have in most cases both had to work to provide for the family. After the age of 12, many of these young people have been “latch-key” kids with time on their hands after school and no parental supervision. They may have little self-discipline. Often they present as “bored,” and they surely do not have a clue as to what will be expected of them in the workplace. Unfortunately, many have been given many privileges, such as expensive electronic devices, at an early age, and they view such amenities as their right, not a privilege. Our upcoming generation has probably had few if any chores to complete in the household, again because the parents were too busy either working or dealing with their own “dramas” at home or in the workplace to make the children accountable for reasonable tasks within the family. This leaves us with a couple of intriguing questions: (1) Who will teach our future leaders? (2) Will these future leaders — supposing they will develop leadership skills — be able to motivate their millennial employees?


Some Little-Known Facts about Personality Type

11 Jun

We at Beyond the Horizons Consulting can’t overestimate the value of the MBTI personality type indicator to teams in the work place and in the lives of couples and families. We are close to concluding our series on personality type a la Carl Gustav Jung, and the mother-daughter team (Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers) who put the Myers Briggs Type Indicator together. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t share some information on personality type throughout an individual’s lifetime and also some statistics you, dear reader, may find interesting as you contemplate your own personality type.
Many people ask, “Doesn’t my personality change over the course of my life?” The answer is, Yes and No. If we look at midlife as being sometime around age 40, we can make the general statement that a person is usually “established” by this time in life. We can think of a person establishing him/herself in terms of creating a longstanding relationship; perhaps having children to raise; having a satisfying career; having a home and an extended family — i.e., a community — with whom to relate. These are the outward signs of having “deep roots” as a person approaching or already in midlife.
Some of the inward signs of establishing oneself are a comfortability with self; an acceptance of one’s strengths and weaknesses; an openness to relate to others of different temperaments; a willingness, indeed eagerness to grow beyond one’s limitations.
In terms of personality type, at midlife a person is clear about who they are. They use their dominant function in their work and personal lives, and are clear about their needs to relate to others and to have alone time. Their lifestyle preference (organized, planful and, goal-directed versus spontaneous, playful and in-the-moment) would also be clear to most individuals when the differences are pointed out.
What is not as well recognized is that ideally we are all on a path to incorporate some of the opposite qualities into our “self-portrait.” Thus Introvert and Extrovert each needs to incorporate some of the opposite way relating to the world. The Introvert ideally needs to begin to challenge him/herself to relate to more people as acquaintances and thus gain a larger circle of “friends.” The Extrovert needs to spend more time in self-reflection and thus bring a greater depth to personality.
In like manner, the Intuitive needs to make greater use of facts and figures and to state things in a simpler manner, more understandable by the large majority of persons. The opposite personality function — the Sensor — needs to begin to see the bigger picture, get a sense of the long-term effects of decisions, and so on.
Likewise, the Feeling person needs to begin to not take things personally, to look at events more with impersonal logic rather than his/her own feeling-determined values. On the contrary, maturity for the Thinking person will mean that s/he will begin to make decisions occasionally based on values that are personally important (e.g., based on compassion) over against values held to be universal by the dominant Western society (e.g., what action brings in more money).
Finally, if one has been a Judging type with strong organizational skills and clearly defined goals, midlife may bring an openness to being present in the moment, to doing things spontaneously, and to playfulness. A Perceptive type, on the other hand, may well find a goal to strive for, instead of just going with the flow.
Often when a person retires or switches employment at midlife, new aspects of personality emerge. A person who has had to put on an Extroverted persona for a customer service job, for example, may now discover an Introverted side which likes to go for a walk alone or sit and reflect with a journal.