Leadership Accountability starts with you! When you accept responsibility for your feelings and train yourself to discipline your thinking, you genuinely empower yourself. Take a peek behind the curtain of a coaching session, where I helped someone step up. To shift from blaming others for how he was feeling, and accept responsibility for delivering different, better results for himself.
"She frustrates me so much. She expects too much, and all I seem to do is to race around meeting her deadlines."
"Who makes you so mad?"
"Sorry, say that again - who makes you mad?"
"Okay, okay, I've been working with you long enough to know that it's me letting me be mad. But why does it always have to be me that works on my emotions? I'm fed up, and I just want to spend some time dumping"
"Well, feel free! Of course you'll be taking yourself below the line and not accepting responsibility for your emotions. You know I think of that as a leadership accountability cop-out. You know I don't coach at that level. So what do you want to do?"
There were a few seconds of silence - the tension across the phone is palpable.
"Grrrr, okay, okay. You're right, but a big part of me wants to spend some time having a good old whine about her. I don't want to let it go."
"No problem, I'm not asking you to let it go. Why don't we stop this call now. I'm sure you'll be able to quickly find someone who has the same vibe as you. Someone willing to jump into your pity party with you. So, why don't you go off for 15 minutes or so, have your complain time. Then when you are ready to move back above the line, give me a callback and we can move forward?"
Another few seconds of silence
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"Okay, that's not what I really want."
"What do you really want?"
"Well, I want to feel better. I want to stop feeling like I'm under so much pressure. I want to feel that I have a voice that is heard throughout my working day."
"Well, that's much better. Now that you are focusing on what you do want, how does that feel?"
"Yeah, better. But we don't have any solutions do we?"
"That's true. But, do you get the sense that you have started to shift from frustration, into a state of wonder? Wondering about how it could be different?"
"Okay, so what do you need to start thinking to help this situation feel better? You were feeling frustrated because you chose to focus on what?"
"That Jane overloads me with too much work and unrealistic deadlines."
"So, if you wanted to shift those thoughts to something that feels better, what would you need to start saying to yourself?"
"Well, maybe something like: (slowly, but surely the following starts to bubble out of him): Because I'm such a good performer, Jane has come to rely on me. She knows that whenever she gives me something, that it will get done and get done well.
The more I accept responsibility ... the more responsibility I have. And, the higher profile my team and I get in the organization. This has an outstanding benefit for my people, my career and my finances.
I can choose at any time, to say to her, 'No'. At the moment, I've been choosing not to.
I often prefer to kid myself by telling myself that I HAVE to do this stuff. But the reality is I don't.
I choose to do it.
Jim does half of what I do, and his career and team seem to be stalled.
Whereas, our team is pumping. We are all energized and everyone is having a great time."
"Good, that's really good. Okay, check your feelings barometer. How are you feeling right now?"
"Much, much better."
"Has anything physically changed? Do you still have the same deadlines and workload?"
"So, what's different?"
"I'm looking at it differently. Now I'm focused on it, I accept responsibility for my choices and decisions to say YES to Jane's demands. At any time, I could choose to say No."
"And if you did?"
"Well, there would be consequences. But I think if I did it in the right way, with the right emphasis - that she would work with me to find a solution that ensures that I continue to be stretched, but not overwhelmed."
"Well done. Let's underscore what you've remembered right now. It doesn't take much effort to shift you out of a negative feeling into a more positive place. Right NOW is the only thing you have power over. You can choose to step below the line and be a victim to your negative emotions. That will put you into a downward spiral and only attract more of that to you.
Alternatively, you can choose to stay above the line and accept responsibility to focus your thinking more positively.
It is always whose choice to take the leadership role and leadership accountability?"
"And when you focus on something that doesn't feel so good to you, where does that send you?"
"On a downward spiral journey. And when I choose to focus on things that make me feel better. I align myself with what I'm here to do and where I want to go."
"Geez, you've had a good coach (laughter). I know you've heard this from me a thousand times, but I'm going to repeat it ... repetition is the mother of learning! As humans, all we are is vibrating energy. Put any part of our physical body under a microscope, and all you see is energy rattling around. Our thoughts echo out into the universe and like a magnet pulls back to us the same type of energy we are giving out.
That's why when you are having a bad hair day, all you seem to do is to bump into people and situations that cause you even more frustration. And, on those days when you are feeling on top of the world, all you encounter are people and situations that are terrific.
So, if you want to keep magnetizing to you challenging situations and people like Jane, then where do you need to keep your thinking and your feelings?"
"Below the line."
"Good. And, if you want to accelerate the attraction of people and situations that enable a fulfilling life, then what do you need to do?"
"Keep myself above the line. By being disciplined in controlling my thoughts and feelings. It's challenging though, to keep my thinking there. And, I know what you're going to say - keep exercising the muscle, it's the only way it will become truly strong! (with a smile in the voice)"
"You've got it. You'll feel aligned, and at peace with yourself every time you focus on your feelings and make the effort to shift your thinking. Even with the people, who push all your hot buttons. They are there for a reason. If you can find a way to enable you to be at peace, no matter the circumstances, you will have moved a long way toward accelerating your life to exactly where you want it to be.
So how are you feeling now?"
"Much better. I've already got some thoughts flying around on how to ......"
And so, there you have it a quick 10-minute coaching session that has enabled someone to shift from being in a fairly dark place. He now sees the situation with a new set of eyes, and then with new energy and a new vibe he'll go out and create a much better workplace.
Pretty easy, really!
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