We may think we are successful because we work hard and we are deeply invested in our work. We think we are successful for ‘WHAT’ we accomplish. However, success and “our best-self” implies that ‘’HOW’’ we do things is just as critical as the WHAT we accomplish. As a leader, “being your best self” means go be fully present, open, available and, as a result, able to ask for feedback, to broach difficult conversations, to learn, to grow, to support, to challenge, to coach (not dictate), and to embody the values of the organization. Can you afford not to be at our best self? We will explore how a balanced ‘’I’m ok, you’re ok’’ posture and embracing vulnerability will allow you to be the best version of yourself.
In the overloaded daily routines, we sometimes forget to be our best self and live on autopilot. We then become reactive, focus on your own goals and task, seek permission before acting, go “under the radar’’, and avoid risk. Acting out of habit, avoiding conflict or feedback motivated primarily by self-preservation, are not the most productive behaviours!
I interviewed Finn Doyle, Senior Vice President, Global Head Commercial and Regions at Biocon Biologics, based in Singapore. She is a leader that I admire for being authentic and at her best self. She actually says: ‘’Part of growing up as person, as a human being is learning to become more self-aware about yourself. And it is also learning that being your best self is being your authentic self. Once you realize that, it is such a wonderful moment because you realise ‘’I am who I am’’, that’s who I bring to work, you are yourself at home and you are yourself at work. I am doing the very best I can in a job I love.’’
For anyone who wants to give the best of themselves, reflecting and gaining consciousness on the posture we adopt when dealing with people and management situations is particularly useful. When interacting with others from a place of ‘’ I’m ok, you’re ok’, it allows us to gain fluidity, harmony and a win-win in our relations. It is not always our natural posture, we all have our natural tendencies and challenging relations.
The following ‘’I’m ok, you’re ok coaching mindset model’’ suggests looking at the four possible postures and asking:
For example, do I tend to think that I am right and the other is wrong (I+, U-)? Or, to the contrary, do I tend to undervalue myself by thinking that the other is better than I am (I-, U+)? Although we all have our natural tendencies, I notice that we can change our posture depending on the situation or the person with whom we interact. If I know myself that I tend to be in a posture ‘’I know better or the other is wrong’’ with a colleague, how does this affect our relation and our collaboration? Can I shift my mindset so I will create a more positive impact?
When we are in the quadrant ‘I’m Ok, You’re OK’’, we are at our best-self, considering we are two adults with all the necessary resources, it brings a collaborative approach. For example, if I have a disagreement or a conflict with a colleague, I accept that I don’t have to agree and that we have different perspectives. Instead of being pushy or aggressive, I can appreciate and see the value of the other, I am being completely open and I ca connect with the good intention of my colleague.
As a leader, we must strive to adopt a position of equality with others. This posture will change daily: sometimes it will be easy to embody and sometimes it will be quite a challenge! As a coach, I live it every day. It’s a muscle that I train relentlessly! Strategies to achieve equilibrium more often include observing our posture in different situations, focusing on the other’s good faith and gaining awareness of our “triggers,” the factors that knock us off our game.
As a leader, you also have an impact on allowing your team members to be at their best self. Finn addresses how she does that when she talks about the importance of trusting people, saying it ‘’I trust you’’ and showing appreciation. She adds: ‘’It is important that people know you have their back. It empowers them. People will be at their best self when they can think ‘’I am believed in, I am empowered, I can do that’’. She also invites us to accept failing with a new definition of the word FAIL - First Attempt In Learning!.
Being at our best self implies being able to show-up with our vulnerability in front of our team and our collaborators. Vulnerability is a one-way ticket to expressing the truest and most authentic part of ourselves, our deepest nature and ultimately connect truly with others.
For Finn, that connection is very important, her moto is ‘’People first always’’. She builds that connection with trust, humility and integrity. She has a weekly team check-in before her operational meeting. She ensures everyone can speak up if they have anything on their mind.
When I work with a team, I use the Arena exercise to practice being vulnerable. I start by delineating a large square on the floor with tape, in the center of the room. This square represents the Arena: a symbolic space of vulnerability for the group. I ask the participants to physically enter the Arena with me. I give them time to reflect on how they perform, how they develop their team, and how they handle difficult conversations when they are at their best selves.
Still standing in the square, I invite them to reflect on their daily posture at work, amidst the challenges, the changes, the sometimes-hectic pace. We discuss recent examples of work situations, wondering, for each example, whether we had been “in the Arena’’ or “out of the Arena” at the time. We physically move in and out of the lines of the square to explore these situations in retrospect, discuss them, and learn how they could be at their best selves.
I will ask you what I ask my clients in the Arena:
I believe being our best self is not only desirable, it is essential! It implies conscious effort and it allows us to embrace change, create clarity, manage obstacles, optimize our resources and achieve the best possible outcomes for our team and organization.
As always, I invite you to be inspired and inspire!
President-founder of o2coaching, Author, Speaker and Coach
For more information on the topic, I invite you to listen to my Podcast Empower your Team with Fionnuala Doyle, Senior Vice President, Global Head Commercial and Regions at Biocon Biologics, based in Singapore. In this episode, Finn shares her passion towards leadership, how she is being at her best self, with her moto ‘’People first always’, connecting, leveraging and empowering her team with her trust, humility and integrity.
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