Thursday, November 21, 2013

Personal Leadership 101: Character Counts


The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you think, what you do is who you become.

~Heraclitus~


In his best-selling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephan Covey wrote, “If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity or insincerity then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust and everything I do, even using so-called good human relation techniques will be perceived as manipulative.”

In my book, Dare to Lead: Personal Leadership Habits for Workplace Success, I share a story about an incident that happened shortly after becoming a manager with Marriott’s Courtyard division. I was so determined to prove that I deserved the promotion that some of my actions was alienating staff members. When I was called to my GM’s office to discuss a conversation I had earlier with Mary, one of my housekeeping team members, I was confronted with this reality. After apologizing to Mary and my boss, I decided to take it upon myself to initiate one-on-one conversations with each member of my staff. The purpose of these meetings: to discuss with members of my team how I could be a better manager.

Encarta World English Dictionary defines integrity as the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards. In the book, Becoming a Person of Influence, John C. Maxwell and Jim Dorman define the fundamentals of integrity as:

Ø Commit yourself to honesty, reliability and confidentiality
Ø Decide ahead of time that you don’t have a price
Ø Major in the minor things (Be detail oriented)
Ø Each day do what you should so before what you want to do

In the one-on-one conversations I had with Mary and the rest of my team, I had to model the trustworthy behavior that I wanted them to show toward me. So, I approached the conversations with this approach:

Ø I was willing to be vulnerable and open to each person’s feedback.
Ø I had to communicate honestly with each person for us to increase our understanding of one another.
Ø As the leader of the department, I had to take responsibility for creating the change I wanted to experience, so I backed up my commitments made in these conversations with concrete actions that were visible to the staff.

I had a lot of rough edges in my personality when I first became a Marriott manager. There was no doubt in my mind or my boss’s that I could manage the physical and mental demands of the job, however, I needed to expand my emotional and social intelligence skills to succeed in my new role.

Fortunately, I had a boss who was attuned to my development needs. She gave me my first copy of Stephen Covey’s book, which helped me immensely as a first-time manager. I recommend 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to become a book that is read at least once every year by anyone striving to increase their personal effectiveness. I was also given the opportunity to take Dale Carnegie’s Leadership Course which became a catalyst for such a transformation in my leadership style that within a year, I was promoted into a GM’s position in Marriott’s Fairfield Inn division.

I’ve always been appreciative of Mary bringing to light how my tone of speech and behavior negatively affected her. Her honesty not only helped me recognize skills that I needed to develop, it helped me to see the benefits of practicing the STOP, START and CONTINUE framework which became a staple in my management tool box as I navigated my leadership career with Marriott and beyond.

Tune in Prompt: Make a list of positive and negative comments about your behavior by those in your sphere of influence in the past two weeks.

Make the Connection Prompt: Using the fundamentals of integrity identified by Maxwell and Dornan, which, if any of the comments was a reflection of your integrity, the demonstration of, or lack thereof.

Sharing Prompt: Contact a few of the individuals who shared positive and negative comments that you've identified reflect your personal integrity; ask them to share with you how they perceive your trustworthiness and what are some suggestions they have for improving it.

In order for you to be effective in your relationships with others, you have to gather constructive feedback from others. You can’t control everything that others may think about you, yet, you need to know if any of your behavior is creating negative perceptions of you in the minds of others. Once you determine if that is the case, you can take action to expand your emotional and social skills with specific objectives in mind.

If you are genuinely interested in having better personal and professional relationships, people will believe it based on your commitment to a new set of behaviors. If, on the other hand you are trying to manipulate people to believe something about you that isn’t true, sooner or later, they will dictate that as well.

I would like to hear your thoughts on personal integrity and how it influences your personal and professional relationships. Share your comments below.
If this article has been of value to you, I would appreciate you sharing it with your network.

Until the next time…
Step Into Greatness!
Jackie B

P.S. My first eBook Dare to Lead: Personal Leadership Habits for Workplace Success is dedicated to helping fund ELEVATE! Leadership and Entrepreneur Summer Mentoring Program. This two week program will be FREE to Youth and Single Parents in Columbia, SC. Help Make a Difference in the Lives of Others. Click here and Purchase Your Copy or Gift Someone A Copy, Today. Thank you for your help in making this program a success.