What secret power does Wonder Woman have that you already have, too?
Motivational speaker and peak performance coach Tony Robbins has been saying for years that we have so much more control over how we feel than we realise. He teaches people to hold their bodies “as if” they are totally confident – shoulders back, head high, standing tall. He even throws in a few fist pumps for good measure. The theory: moving your body “as if” you are confident will make you confident.
Science has now proven that Robbins had it right. You can increase confidence and power by simply tweaking your posture.
Specifically, you can “Power Pose.”
The science of Power Posing
Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy and her fellow researchers studied the impact of body posture on our confidence levels. They had subjects assume a particular posture for just two minutes, and then they measured the subjects’ levels of testosterone (associated with dominance and power) and cortisol (associated with stress). The subjects also underwent a behavioural test to measure their level of risk tolerance.
The result: how you position your body significantly impacts your body chemistry, how you feel, and how you behave.
Cuddy and her research partners called the postures that increase feelings of power “Power Poses.”
There’s nothing quite as predictable as the night sky.
Weather, shooting stars and airplanes notwithstanding, you can accurately predict, night after night, what you’ll see when you look up into space. So much so that you can purchase sophisticated telescopes that will virtually lock on to a star and automatically track it by following the natural curve of movement of that star.
The Journey of a Team
Every team also goes on a journey, only that journey is far less predictable than the nightly movement of the stars, and tracking the progress of a team can be incredibly challenging.
That’s why psychologist Bruce Tuckman came up with the four stages that a team goes through on its way to high performance. He called those stages Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.
Whether you have a long term team, or people are brought together for short term projects and initiatives, here’s what you, as a leader, can do to support your team in a way that fits the stage the team is at.
Here’s how it seems to go. You try really hard, I mean really hard, and you just do okay. Or maybe you even do really well. But you never seem to reach that level of Extraordinary that appears to be reserved for the chosen few. As you get more and more frustrated you start to tell yourself, “I just haven’t got what it takes.”
But the truth is you DO have what it takes. You’re just not using it effectively. While those who’ve achieved Extraordinary have been zooming forward, you’ve been driving with the handbrake on.
It’s time to become aware of the biggest thing that keeps that handbrake on, that gets between you and the Extraordinary results you’re looking for.
So what exactly is it that we do to sabotage Extraordinary?
We decide Extraordinary isn’t available to us
The key reason we don’t reach Extraordinary is because we make a decision, often without even realising it. We decide that we are not, and will never be, Extraordinary. This decision reflects a lack of self-belief that, if not addressed, will always be a barrier to Extraordinary. The truth is that Extraordinary is available to anyone who wants it, is willing to learn what it takes, and is willing to do what it takes. People aren’t born Extraordinary. We choose it.
What do you call a leader who jumps in to help at the hint of a problem in the team? A hero? A blessing? A godsend?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Your team probably call that leader a micro-manager.
And yet problems do need to be overcome. Just not always by you.
Here are three key questions you need to ask yourself before you wade into a sticky situation and send the wrong message to your team.
Has the team handled problems like this before?
If the team have handled something similar before – with or without your assistance – chances are they’ve got a shot at handling this one. Stepping in now demonstrates that you don’t trust them to do something they have experience in.
If the problem is significant enough for your attention, ask for an update rather than going into command and control mode.
Are you constantly busy, but feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Wishing you were getting more results, faster?
Ask anyone at the end of a quarter if they met their goals, and unless those goals are imposed on them via sales targets, most people won’t have an answer. It might be because they never set goals in the first place, or alternatively they did set the goals, but lost track of them a long time ago.
And if foregoing results isn’t bad enough, recognising your progress is one of the main ingredients in the recipe for fulfilment, so a lack of planning stops you from cooking up a big batch of happy.
Leaders, it’s time to get practical.
It’s time to plan.
First give up the excuses
If you’ve been avoiding planning, I hear you. I used to trot out all the excuses, too. I don’t have time to plan. Situations are changing so fast that my plan will be out of date before I finish it. And my personal favourite (which still gets airtime on occasion): I like winging it.
But my excuses existed because I hadn’t discovered a way of planning that works.
I hadn’t discovered 90-day plans.
Here’s how to write a 4-page 90-day plan that simultaneously pulls you into the future while providing you a weekly plan you can rely on to get you there, one day at a time. (Due to popular demand, we’ve created worksheets to make this process even easier for you. You can still do this process on 4 blank pages, or you can now download our worksheet and print it out as a template.)
They notice when something’s going well. They notice when it’s not.
They notice who’s engaged and contributing, and who’s disengaged and coasting, or even worse, disengaged and causing damage.
So it makes sense that if you could increase your ability to notice, you increase your ability to lead. A leader who is blind to what’s happening around them is like a faulty thermostat that can’t gauge whether the temperature’s hot or cold, and so never turns up the heat or adjusts the air conditioning.
Noticing is something we do all the time
No matter what your current level of perceptiveness, you can improve your ability to take in what’s going on by understanding the process you already go through in order to notice something.
Each of the four steps of noticing is something we all do anyway. We might not, however, do them in the right sequence, or we try to rush through a step when we’re stressed, unsure, or short on time and patience.
Here are the four steps of noticing, and the mistakes we sometimes make around them.
Have you tried the traditional time management tips and techniques, but still find yourself lacking the focus you need to do the best job you can?
Lord Chesterfield famously said, “Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.”
Here are six less-known, less-employed ways to get more from your minutes and sharpen your focus.
Play a game of “Who Am I?”
When I’m exercising and I can’t seem to do that next push-up, step-up or squat, I picture a super-motivating Arnold Schwarzenegger video (watch it here) where he is straining to do one more bench press, and then another, in order to be the best. It sounds hokey, but I pretend I’m Arnie and I somehow seem to find that extra bit of strength I didn’t think I had.
Let’s face it, you have to be a dozen different people during the day, maybe more, and swapping between roles means jumping between different ways of thinking. Does this task need you to be a prolific writer? A no-excuses disciplinarian? An organiser extraordinaire? Figure out who you need to be and channel that personality type for short spurts in order to get there faster.
What’s the one thing that you have to do in order to keep your team moving in the direction you want them to go?
Watch any mother duck and you’ll notice that when she’s sitting down, her little ducklings can be found scattered within a safe distance, doing as they please. But once mother duck stands up, gives a quack, and starts to walk, her little ducklings line up behind her.
Imagine saying to a group of people “follow me!” and promptly sitting down to have a think while they stand around waiting for you to show them the way. Leadership without clear forward movement is like a well-thought out basketball game where no one ever picks up the ball.
Here are three simple steps to get you from overthinking – and losing the attention of your team in the process – to leading the way with an action focus.
Have you ever been so impressed by someone that you were “in awe” of them?
I remember early in my career, when I had just become a manager. I was conducting my first interviews with candidates for a role that had opened up in my team and I was very nervous. My fellow interviewer was a highly experienced colleague, and she was superbly skilled at making candidates feel comfortable, and yet asking questions that drilled them down to quite specific detail. She made it all look so easy.
I walked out of the interview in awe of her interviewing skills.
And that was a mistake.
Awe is dangerous
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Admiration for a quality or an art can be so strong that it deters us from striving to possess it.”
Being in awe of someone puts them on a pedestal way above you. It’s as if you’ve discovered that they’ve got a super power that you could never have. They’re so special, they’re so skilled, and you’re mightily impressed, because you’re not.
When Deb was first recommended to me, I thought I had already tried everything in my search for direction. I was feeling completely aimless – juggling a part time job, a fledgling business, and a toddler – all this and I was still not sure about what I ultimately wanted to achieve.
My weekly calls with Deb were more like chatting with a friend. She has an exceptional gift for listening and drawing out the best in people. Deb didn´t “teach” me to do anything differently, she guided me (firmly but gently!) to places where I could discover powerful skills I already had within myself.
Deb changed my outlook, my confidence, even my vocabulary, and helped me to acknowledge the things that I wanted in my life but was too scared to admit even to myself.
After our time together I have clear goals and a solid pathway towards achieving them. I am no longer satisfied with “survival” as my standard of living, and instead I am striving for “exceptional” with joy.
Thank you Deb!
Catherine L, Melbourne