Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mindful Influence: The DOs and DON'Ts of Getting What You Want

It’s easy to believe that agility – the ability to switch from one behavior to another –makes us better as leaders. This requires awareness of how behaviors are being received. This awareness comes from being mindful.  

Mindful is defined as aware, watchful, attentive, and careful. The mindful leader is continuously noticing how their behavior is being perceived and received (or not) which enables them to switch to more effective behaviors as needed.

The speed of making this course correction is important. It increases your chance of gaining the commitment or cooperation you need while decreasing the potential harm that ineffective leadership can have on relationships and the organization.

In most cases, ineffective leadership is a result of unintentional or unconscious behavior. This unconscious behavior is termed the shadow side in Jungian psychology. According to Jung, the shadow side of a behavior is an unconscious aspect, most often negative, that the conscious ego does not recognize.

Believe it or not, this can happen when we become so focused on the desired outcome that we fail to notice what is happening in the moment. Even if we do gain someone’s cooperation in the short term, slipping into the shadow side when we influence can do long-term damage to our personal effectiveness and to the organization, as it creates an atmosphere of distrust where people stop listening, and the potential for innovation or progress is diminished.

When we act unconsciously, we don’t always realize that we are being ineffective; much less that we are being harmful. To start this learning process, we are providing some examples that show the negative response that results from unconscious behavior contrasted with the positive responses that can result from more mindful influencing behavior.

Practiced unconsciously, Rationalizing can be perceived as dismissing. When the influencer lets data dominate feelings, people feel dismissed, unheard, and that the influencer values data more than people. This makes them withdraw and more likely to reject the influencer’s position.

Practiced mindfully, Rationalizing can be seen as inclusive. When the influencer listens and questions people about how they feel, people are more likely to engage, ask clarifying questions and make feelings known, remaining open to the influencer’s position.

Practiced unconsciously, Asserting can be perceived as bullying. When the influencer relies on authority more than commitment, this can be intimidating, making people feel defensive and more likely to take the positioning personally.

Practiced mindfully, Asserting can be seen as persuasive. When the influencer practices diplomacy and emphasizes clarity of position rather than authority, people remain objective and open to consider the positioning without personal bias.

Practiced unconsciously, Negotiating can be perceived as waffling. When the influencer lets the process dominate the solution, people can become unclear about what is open to compromise, discount the confusion of others, and make no attempts to clarify.

Practiced mindfully, Negotiating can be seen as synergistic. When the influencer is clear what is open to compromise and focused on win-win solutions, people respect the negotiation process (and the negotiator) and ask expansive questions.

Practiced unconsciously, Bridging can be perceived as manipulative. When the influencer lets control dominate collaboration, positions and interests can be obscured and cause people to become impatient, feel frustration and withdraw.

Practiced mindfully, Bridging can be seen as sincere. When the influencer is transparent about positions and interests, this encourages cooperation, making people more likely to listen and ask integrating questions.

Practiced unconsciously, Inspiring can be perceived as fantasizing. When the influencer lets imagination dominate useful outcomes, people feel cynicism and are more likely to dismiss the influencer.

Practiced mindfully, Inspiring can be seen as motivating. When the influencer uses tangible examples and tells relevant stories it builds trust, making people more likely to ask converging questions.

How mindful are you when you influence?
Have you ever slipped into the shadow side of influencing?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Follow by Email