Last week we wrote about location, location, location, an animated video on a crucial part of conscious leadership: self mastery. This week we focus on how it is a prerequisite for drama-free relationships, at work and at home.
Becoming conscious of our patterns of thought and emotion is key to self-mastery. But this is only the first step. Being transparent to others about being reactive enables leaders to build authentic relationships with those they lead and serve. It makes the difference between leaders who are perceived as authentic and leaders who are perceived as inauthentic.
You may think: Being that transparent is a crazy idea. It would backfire. It would make me look bad. They would eat me alive. Instead, I will work on my thoughts and emotions on my own. However, those you interact with sense your inner state. This is true both when you are out of touch with it, and when you do your utmost to appear “professional”.
Like in the Wizard of Oz, others will see behind our facade.
And then they either move to defense or concern. I will give you examples for that later on. In a nutshell:
Whether you are conscious of it or not, others react to your reactiveness.
I’d be surprised if you have not experienced the following situation before: You ask someone who seems a bit off: “Are you alright?” and while they answer: “Yes”, you sense that something’s wrong. Or you don’t even ask, but you leave the conversation telling yourself that something’s wrong, and wondering if it has something to do with what you have said or done. Your relationship has just turned murky.
When our words and our inner state aren’t aligned, others intuitively know it. And when in doubt, they will take our non-verbal message as the valid, real message.
For example, think of a common feedback situation. A manager needs a direct report to perform better and has scheduled a conversation. She plans to cushion her “constructive feedback” in “positive feedback” so as not to upset them. She puts a premium on keeping emotions out of this interaction, so the other person can hear her message clearly. So far so good. But she is unconsciously coming from a place of “I would rather just get rid of you, because you will never perform.” After the conversation she may wonder why the person doesn’t improve at all in the following weeks. Her message was clear, wasn’t it?
Well, her direct report might just be responding to her non-verbal communication.
Research proves that when we believe in others, we raise the bar for them in a positive way, and they grow in response, but when we think badly of their ability, their performance stays the same or even decreases. It’s called the pygmalion effect.
If you want to be a trusted, authentic leader who enrolls and empowers others, you need to be aware of what you are thinking and feeling in the present moment. And you need to pluck up the courage to be transparent about it. Because transparency about and ownership of our own reactions is the opposite of feedback. It empowers others to reflect and respond in an authentic way.