Have you noticed just how relentless the pace of change can be these days? Our experience of change appears to be daily, almost accepted as a given, a constant in our busy lives. I see this vividly with the teams and organisations I work with. As consumer behaviour continues to rapidly evolve within their markets, these organisations are having to put in place restructures, sometimes three or four in as many years to stay successful, to position themselves ahead of the competition and sustain their growth.
Through all of this, teams and leaders are having to sustain levels of energy and concentration that are unprecedented, juggling multiple projects and constantly shifting priorities, budgets and expectations, targets, timelines…you get the point!
In this context I have noticed a key differentiator emerging across our client organisations. The differentiator relates to how some individuals, regardless of their role, can sustain their effectiveness and performance irrespective of the pace of change.
As I started to pay more attention to this difference what has emerged is that those individuals who are able to sustain their effectiveness are focusing on a key area.
They are enabling and evolving their self-awareness.
Let me give you an example which may help to best illustrate what I mean. I have a client, in this case a leader who is working with me to change the culture of her team, to embed innovation and enable key performance behaviours, such as ownership, accountability and a focus on results.
This leader has realised that she needs balance when everything around her is moving and moving incredibly quickly. Her role is equally demanding, is on a regional scale and one away from the CEO of a global corporate. In addition, she is married and the mother of two young children. I recognise that this is neither uncommon nor unique these days but at the very least, it does highlight the exceptional demands of modern life.
With all of that in mind, the beauty of the realisation she had is as follows.
‘Change is now a given and a constant for me. Without question. It is living in this context, with the ongoing pressure, that led me to the realisation that only by evolving my self-awareness would I be able to develop a real balance that sustains my continued effectiveness’.
I was really struck by her insight and awareness of ‘how’ she needed to be. She is clear on her ‘why’ but her realisation has evolved to noticing her ‘how’. This is her path towards building her self-awareness and therefore balance. She described this to me as noticing what shows up for her. For example, becoming aware of and noticing how she may feel when under pressure. Pressure triggers her need to get things done, to put a tick in the box and move on.
With time, her awareness led her to recognise how her need for control emerged when under pressure and how she then gave direction when not always appropriate. She started to notice when her team resisted this style and how imbalance set in. In this case, resistance to her solutions and a dependency on her for providing the way forward. When the imbalance became clear to her, she worked hard on practicing when to pull back from needing control and giving direction.
Instead, she focused on how she could be present, listen and engage people’s ideas to resolve the evolving business challenges. She uncovered in the ideas, levels of creativity that initiated significant innovation. As this balance emerged for her, so did ownership and accountability from her teams.
This ability to find balance through self-awareness is on display for all, from how she turns off her phone in meetings, connects with her team and shows up for them, undistracted by the gazillion demands on her time. How she stays present and listens, ensuring she understands the various perspectives. She is always looking to ensure a flow of ideas from people, varies her style to engage others and fosters a lot of trust.
She may not be perfect, holds her hand up and openly admits to her mistakes and not getting it correct. She does have bad days but her team respect and trust her because of what she gives of herself.
Her self-awareness is not just enabling her effectiveness and performance, but that of those around her. The effectiveness is being modelled back. Not just to her but within and across her teams. One example is evident in how her team are expecting to be asked for their ideas and when asked, offer these up without fear of judgement. Whether she is in the meeting or not. That level of trust is exceptionally rare in teams and is the foundation of innovation and high performance.
Small changes, sometimes as simple as just noticing how you show up, but practiced and sustained over time allow us to build self-awareness and find balance. Small changes combining over time to ensure our ongoing effectiveness and performance.
If you are interested in understanding how to enable and sustain your performance during times of change, reach out to us at Connectivity Consulting.