Saturday, April 23, 2016

Leader Character and Self-Regulation

Last week, while I was talking to a colleague, he told me about the experiences he was having with his morning meetings. On a regular basis, he holds morning huddles to ensure the department has a shared understanding of priorities.

He told me that at the beginning of each meeting, he shares a story or short video clip to motivate the team. Typically, the content is sports related. However, the stories and videos do no seem to register with his team members.  At most, one or two were connecting to the message.

This exchange reminded me of the leader character dimensions of courage and judgment as described by Sejits, Gandz, Crossan, and Reno in their article Character matters: Character dimensions’ impact on leader performance and outcomes. Each character dimension is comprised of elements. The elements of the character dimensions can create issues when they are lacking or displayed in excess. I had the insight that he lacked situational awareness (an element of judgment) about why these types of activities were not having the expected impact. I also realized that he was determined (an element of courage) to continue trying this method even though he knew it was not working.

I also thought about a book I read recently, “A Failure of Nerve." The author makes the connection between self-regulation and learning from experiences writing, “.. all organisms that lack self-regulation will be permanently invading the space of their neighbors.” Additionally,  “…organisms that are unable to self-regulate cannot learn from their experience, which is why the unmotivated are invulnerable to insight.”

 It occurred to me he did not have situational awareness because he was not learning from the experiences with his team meeting and he was failing to self-regulate.  His team members were “invulnerable to insight” because of his inability as a leader to self-regulate.

Seeing the opportunity for a quick coaching session, I asked, “Why do you think the team is not getting the message of your videos and stories?”  That led into a great 15-minute coaching conversation that helped him gain situational awareness and learn from the experience. His solution was to continue to use stories and videos, but select different topics.

Having awareness of the impact you have on others is important. Sometimes it helps to talk to a peer or supervisor about obstacles you have encountered. The conversation can lead to a moment of self-discovery with a solution that has a positive impact on your team.

Jonathan is an experienced leader and coach with a proven record of leading and developing others to perform at higher levels and improve their overall effectiveness. He has a passion for learning and developing others to improve as leaders. Jonathan brings lessons from over 25 years of experience leading in U.S. Army Infantry, Cavalry, and Armor units in a wide range of assignments, to include leading soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. He is a decorated veteran and a recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. Jonathan served as a faculty member at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY before transitioning from the Army in 2015. He is a certified Executive Coach and operates his own leadership coaching business. Check out his website here:

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