Monthly Archives: September 2015

She wanted to change the world!


She dreamed of changing the world. After considerable thought she decided to focus on healthcare. Rather than becoming a physician she chose to pursue a track that would allow her to lead teams of people in hospital operations and administration.

She went to school. She completed her master’s degree with honors. She was smart and confident. She had all the answers. The test scores said so. She was ready to take what she learned and bring it to an organization that could benefit from her expertise.   She hired on in an internship program that was certain to open the door for her to lead her own hospital. She learned pretty quickly that having all the answers was not sufficient.

Many perceived her as overconfident. Others dismissed her as simply arrogant. Her career quickly hit the wall. But, she didn’t give up. She engaged an executive coach who helped her discover pretty quickly that with all the information available at the touch of button, and with all the experience imbedded within the long term employees of the hospital, that having all the answers was not going to help her to become an effective CEO.

Through the coaching process she learned that the right questions are often more important than the right answers. As she began leading with questions, she was able to draw from team members the answers that lay deeply within them. By tapping into the competencies, creativity, and energy through asking right questions, she grew confident in their abilities, released them to perform their jobs, witnessed their increased engagement, and watched their performance soar. She began to get great satisfaction from helping people discover their capabilities and challenging them to achieve more than they dreamed possible.

By the way, she also started to realize her dream as she began to see how she could change her small corner of the world in more ways than she initially envisioned!

Rewrite the Scripts

Exceptional Leaders rewrite the negative scripts that have the power to beat them down and leave them feeling defeated.

Even the people who were fortunate enough to have positive parents or guardians in their lives, who never heard a comment from an adult that left them feeling dumb, stupid or incapable; even these people went through puberty. Few were fortunate enough to escape the terror of zits, crooked teeth, demeaning nicknames, wearing the unacceptable outfit, the outdated brand, or family member who was a total embarrassment.

It is simply far too easy to learn that “I’m not okay unless ‘they’ approve of me.” Of course “they” can be anyone from classmates, teachers, parents, friends, and can grow to include colleagues, bosses, spouses and children.

It is true that approval from others can certainly shape our behavior. To demonstrate this, a professor divided his class in to three groups. Each group was given an assignment to get their rats through the maze as fast as possible. When giving the instructions to the students, he told the first group that their rats had been of really low genetic qualities and wished them luck. The second group was told that their rats were your average run of the mill barn rats. The third group was told that their rats were bred for exceptionally high intelligence.

The results of the experiment are as you imagined. Those exceptional rats completed the maze in record time, far better that of the other two groups. It was only after the experiment was complete that the professor confessed to the students that there was no difference in their rats. The only difference was the perceptions of those conducting the experiment.

I believe something similar holds true for people. The approval or perceptions or judgment of others, especially leaders, can shape our behavior for the good or the bad. And if their message is one of criticism, there’s usually enough truth to these messages reinforce the scripts we play in our heads and that keep us trapped.

However, exceptional leaders do not allow these messages to form the basis of their self-image, nor to they allow themselves to become prisoners of their mistakes and failures. They take a more objective look at themselves. While they are cognizant of their mistakes and failures, they chose to maintain a balanced focus on their accomplishments and successes. This is what keeps them humble, confident and optimistic.

Interestingly enough, these exceptional leaders also realize that the perceptions they hold of others can have an incredible impact on how those folks see themselves and on how they perform.

So rather than focusing on mistakes and failures, exceptional leaders view themselves and others from their strengths, their potential and their capabilities, often seeing them as even more capable than they see themselves. They challenge themselves and others to do beyond what they believe the can. And more often than not they and the people under their leadership rise to the occasion, often surprising themselves, and even more grateful that an Exceptional Leader believed in them and challenged them to excel.