Sunday, November 28, 2010

Being a Leader People Want to Follow

There is one thing to have a great idea or vision. It is a different thing to be able to mobilize and lead people over time to make dreams into reality. The manner in which you treat people can either launch you into unimagined success or set you back in immeasurable ways. Great leadership is not an accident. It takes intentions, self-awareness, sensitivity, strength, and hard work. Some of these skills may seem to come naturally to you. In fact it is likely that you have either been blessed to witness good leadership and you have adopted some of what you’ve seen or you have had the misfortune of experiencing bad leadership and are very intentional of not becoming what you have seen. Psychologists have examined a number of components that together can create a great leader. I have summarized some of these mental health leadership tips below for you to consider.

1. Self-awareness. It is very important for you to be aware of your strengths, growth areas, and personality style. People who are clueless about themselves are likely to engage in self-sabotaging behavior such as not recognizing how their behavior is affecting others or not getting help in areas that are clear weaknesses. Know yourself so you can grow yourself. Self-knowledge is critical for self-development.

2. Vision and purpose. If you are not clear about what you are trying to do, it will be impossible to get others excited about it. It is not a good idea to focus on fluff without substance. The substance is the detailed vision, plan, and goal. A leader without a mission will not be a leader for long. Clarity is necessary for effective leadership.

3. Commitment. Leaders don’t quit. When things get tough, leaders rise to the occasion. People will place their trust in those who do not easily lose faith or perspective. If you continuously start things but never finish you will develop a reputation for being flaky and people will not trust your vision or your leadership. Perseverance is a fundamental quality for good leaders.

4. Respectful. People respond based on how they are treated. If you are gifted with the opportunity to lead do not adopt a demeaning, arrogant, or condescending attitude. Confidence is not the same as operating with a sense of entitlement. Talk to people with respect. Consider people’s ideas and feelings respectful. Carry yourself with respect. Have enough respect for the project that you won’t let ego get in the way of accomplishing the goal. Strength and humility can co-exist and it is vital that you nurture both qualities.

5. Team work. Team work makes the dream work. If you don’t learn to delegate and share the load you will end up doing everything by yourself. A lone ranger may become a successful person but that is not leadership. Determine the strengths of those around you and then create space for people to shine, grow, and thrive. When the team does well everyone wins. A leader who cannot let go of any aspect of the project will drain the enthusiasm from the group and make everyone overly dependent on the leader to the point that failure is only a matter of time.

Learn from the good and bad examples of leadership you have seen. Commit to a spirit of excellence by being open to continual learning. Great leadership is not a destination but a journey. Take steps each day in the direction of your dreams.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dealing with High-Drama People

There are some people who thrive on high drama. They like to create it. They feel most comfortable when they’re surrounded by it. Constant drama is not only a lot of work for the individual who is creating it but it is also very draining for those who are around them. It usually doesn’t take long to recognize when you’re dealing with a high drama person. Here are some of the signs:
• The person has the capacity to make the smallest issues into a major event.
• The person usually dominates every conversation.
• When the person does withdraw, they do it in a very attention grabbing way that manages to focus all energy toward them.
• They seem to always be on stage or putting on a performance.
• They find it easier to see the negative than the positive.
• They have a way of speaking to people that creates tension.

If you have a friend or family member who is a drama starter, it can be very difficult to manage. There are a number of possible reasons for their behavior. The person may:
• Create drama as a distraction from dealing with their real issues.
• Have grown up with constant put-downs and have never learned how to be positive or affirming.
• Feel insecure and need constant attention to convince them that they are valued.
• Confuse peaceful with boring and create drama to entertain themselves and others.

For those who are in relationship with high drama people, here are some pointers:
1. Be very clear about your relationship with the person. You can be the supportive friend, family member, or spouse but you cannot be their therapist.
2. You have to set up healthy boundaries to both take care of yourself and also to discourage unhealthy dynamics in the relationship.
3. Aim to be a stable, grounded person not someone who feeds off of the drama and escalates it. Do not give the person the message that their job is to entertain you. Be the kind of friend that doesn’t pressure them to perform.
4. Develop a healthy sense of yourself so you don’t let the drama cause you to doubt yourself or your worth.
5. Set limits. While it is good to be supportive, if the high drama person is being disrespectful or abusive, don’t feel you have to suffer in silence. Take the space and time you need to think honestly about the level of contact you want to maintain with the person. If you need to reduce the time you spend with the person, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It means you are taking steps to protect and preserve your emotional well-being.

Most importantly, don’t get caught up in the drama. Take a step back so you can see things clearly.