How to Define Company Goals

How to Define Company Goals

When I ask leaders and their teams about their main obstacles to performance and what prevents them from achieving results, the number one answer—by far—is “Not having clear goals.” They say things like: “I don’t really know what we’re doing,” or “I don’t understand the bigger picture here,” or “We keep changing our plans, and I’m confused about what we’re really going for now.”

My CEO clients are routinely shocked when I share this with them, saying things like “What do you mean, they don’t understand the goals? I talk about them every week! Plus I just explained them in depth at our all-hands meeting a month ago! And what about all the strategic planning we did? My entire leadership team attended those sessions and said they loved the vision and goals!” I remember my leaders saying the same thing to me at Coffee Bean, and thinking to myself, What the heck more could I tell them? I’ve given sales goals, and new store counts, and customer satisfaction targets—what else could they possibly need? 

I was perplexed about this for years until I realized that when team members said, “I don’t really understand the goals,” what they usually meant was, “I don’t know how to achieve the goals, nor do I know the plan to make them happen,” or “I don’t really understand my part and how it will contribute to the goals,” or “I don’t believe I can achieve those goals, but I don’t know how to say so.” No one wants to commit to outcomes when they can’t see a reasonably clear path to achieve them. As soon as we focused the leaders and team on creating the strategy and plans to achieve the results, the confusion and uncertainty disappeared, which then made alignment and agreement easy.

But how do we form those original goals in a way that everyone can understand them and have confidence in achieving them? How do we form goals that the team commits to achieving, and then does? And what about when the goals change?

Our process produces what we call your “Visionary Master Plan,” and after Self-Leadership, it’s the most important element that enables teams to achieve desired results. In the Visionary Master Plan, you’ll learn how to articulate clear goals along with the “big why” behind them so that everyone knows what success looks like. You’ll also need to identify the strategic and internal projects that create the path to get you there.

But before we dive into that, we need to temporarily back up and discuss how business happens in the “real world” today. The old ways of working, where unusually smart, driven people gave orders from the top and everyone else did what they were told, are completely obsolete. The modern business environment changes faster and faster—technology innovates at blazing speeds, customers demand better quality for fewer dollars, and competitors pop up everywhere. So how do we grow a business amid such rapid change? 

You have likely heard people talk about going from point A to point B. To describe the process of business growth today, I use a model that, instead, charts the journey from point A to point V. Point A in this model represents your current state, and point V represents your Vision State—the state you want to get to, where your vision for your business is made manifest. 

You’re probably now wondering, But what does “vision” really mean in this context? Well, this V State is a set of high-level goals that you can describe in relatively concrete terms, as if you’re standing three or four years in the future and have actually achieved those goals.

And this V State doesn’t just describe the business results you are aiming for—it also includes the level of operating excellence needed to achieve them. I’ve found that most small-business owners don’t give the quality of their operations much thought. They think that if they just focus on achieving results, then good performance will happen naturally. But as with any activity in which you want to reach a mastery level, your company will hit a plateau if you don’t take deliberate measures to improve. So when you are planning your future V State and defining the outcomes you want to reach, you also need to think about how you and your team will operate to achieve those outcomes. When you have successfully reached the V State, what level of professionalism, teamwork, communication, structure, and processes will you have in place that have propelled you to reach that point? 

Thinking from your V State is a simple concept, yet it’s a major empowering mindset shift. Picture yourself in the future, already having achieved your goals, and then imagine what your work and the work of your team members will look like. 

  • What kinds of things will you be doing differently from the way you operate now? 
  • For example, if your team currently plans everything at the last minute, how will that work when the revenue doubles? 
  • If you make all the important decisions yourself and haven’t yet developed your team to take on more responsibility, how will you focus more on strategy and innovation? 
  • And if your customer service team currently has to enter the same information into three different software systems, how will that work when your volume triples?

When you think about these things from your current A State, you may realize that things are getting difficult and that you need some extra resources, or more planning time, but you aren’t thinking of what will be different about the business at scale; you’re just thinking about what would solve the problem right now. In fact, each of these issues needs to be addressed not only to solve the problem for now but also to work effectively for a bigger future that’s coming soon! This V State mindset should inform all of your strategic planning, major decision making, and problem solving, because it both widens your perspective and moves it into the future. Thinking from your A State, or doing what’s easy and convenient in the short term, does the opposite. In business, long-term, sustainable success is tied to your ability to face the problems of the current moment and address them with thought out solutions that not only resolve the issue in the moment but are also in service to your future V State. Short-term-only solutions are likely to cause even more problems down the road, keeping you and your team locked in a perpetual state of running fire to fire, so it’s worth thinking ahead in the “now.” 

To learn more about how to define company goals and everything you need to know to achieve the best outcomes, order a copy of The People Part. This book contains valuable information to help you become a better leader and work collaboratively and effectively with your team. 

Warmly,

Annie

 

Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Expanding The Zone of Emotional Endurance

Expanding The Zone of Emotional Endurance

As human beings we don’t have control of what happens, but we (almost) always have a choice in how we respond. As a leader, making choices from Self-Leadership ensures that you can navigate challenges and find the best way forward. It also enables you to create psychological safety and build secure working relationships. However, it does not mean that all your team members are going to feel good all the time.

When it comes to psychological safety, the most common misconception by far is thinking that it’s about making people “comfortable.” Let’s be clear: Total safety and comfort in business isn’t possible (or even desirable). Instead, business inherently faces challenge, loss, and problems. To achieve lasting success, companies need to endure the tough stuff and grow despite the difficulties—which means that people need to not just survive but thrive, even when they’re experiencing stress, challenge, and change.

When we say that team members need psychological safety to do their best work, that doesn’t mean they need to feel good, comfortable, or at ease all the time. Rather, we want our team members to feel psychologically safe enough—enough to endure the inevitable discomfort they’ll experience and stay anchored in Self-Leadership so they can use their thinking brain to problem-solve, as well as step up to taking on greater responsibility and risk.

Trying new things is inherently uncomfortable. Often as humans we stick with behavior that’s familiar, even if we suspect it will not get the best results, because at least we have relative certainty—we know we didn’t die the last time we behaved that way. To be a part of a business that remains relevant, you need to know how to innovate with your team. Innovation sounds exciting, right? It is! But being effective at leading innovation means that you have to master your ability to spend a lot of time in discomfort, and make it safe for your team to be in discomfort right alongside you. I’ve made a model to illustrate this delicate balance between being totally at ease and being totally overwhelmed—a zone in which we’re uncomfortable but still able to think clearly and take calculated risks, despite feeling fear and/or discomfort. This is how we learn and grow. Take a look at the graphic below to see how I think of it visually.

The top zone is where you succumb to emotional reactivity: the panic, punishment, pleasing, and paralysis zone. Different people experience this differently. For some, extreme stress comes across as highly punishing; they think, This is just too much, I can’t take it, it’s not worth it, I have to take a day off. Others respond to extreme stress with panic, unable to be still or control their racing minds, which leads them to speak every irrational thought and every difficult feeling, including anger, out loud. They’ll say things like “I can’t believe this happened. I’m so upset! How did you mess this up?” while frantically putting notes and reminders in their phone. Still others become paralyzed, frozen in overwhelm or fear. They’re often on the receiving end of someone yelling, “Gosh darn it—do something!” And some even go into appeasing behaviors, where they will say and do anything to reduce tension and avoid conflict, even if that involves lying, evasion, or manipulation. Such as “I’m sure I can get this solved before tomorrow”—when everyone who’s in their right mind knows that’s not possible.

The bottom zone represents comfort and (sometimes) denial. Unlike the top zone, this zone can actually have a productive use. We can’t spend our entire lives with tension and stress present in every moment, so the comfort zone is where we recharge our batteries so we can face challenges later. This is the zone where we may busy ourselves with data entry or cleaning up our e-mail inbox, and it helps us cool down after a challenging workday (or week!). But you can indeed have too much of a good thing, and staying in this zone as a way to avoid facing issues (or deny they even exist) guarantees that there’s no growth or learning going on. You’re avoiding the stress of being challenged, sure, but you’re also denying yourself opportunities for both you and the business to improve!

The middle zone is where you are at your most productive. In this zone, you are psychologically safe and secure enough to meet challenges, take deliberate risks, learn new things, and, yes, innovate—even though you’re uncomfortable, doing things you haven’t done before or stretching your capabilities beyond where you’re confident in your own performance. You may even be experiencing pain, fear, frustration, or any number of emotions; however, these emotions don’t control your behavior—you perform well even while experiencing some discomfort of negative emotions. And as you spend time in this zone, you’ll function better and better in it. Imagine you’re about to present a new idea, suggest a solution to a tricky problem, or have a potentially difficult conversation with a team member. You aren’t 100 percent sure of the outcome and it’s a bit nerve-racking, but you feel safe enough to give it a try. Once you make it through in one piece—even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you hoped—you’ll feel confident to do it (and other tough stuff!) again. Every time you reap the rewards of taking a risk, you grow your confidence and competence and “level up” your work.

I refer to this as building your emotional endurance—an element of Self-Leadership—and it is a key competency for team members and leaders alike. 

To learn more about psychological safety and Self-Leadership, pick up a copy of my book The People Part: Seven Agreements Entrepreneurs and Leaders Make to Build Teams, Accelerate Growth, and Banish Burnout for Good. You can order it everywhere books are sold or head to anniehymanpratt.com/book.

 

Warmly,

Annie

 

Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

The Habitual Behaviors that Make Up Culture

The Habitual Behaviors that Make Up Culture

Self-Leadership and secure relationships, the Business Operating Triangle, role clarity and agreements—comes into play when we’re talking about the way a team interacts and the habits and behaviors that make up the fabric of each day’s work. Many of the best practices that make up an effective culture are combinations of multiple behaviors that we demonstrate all at once. But we need to clearly define those behaviors and essentially give some instruction for how to demonstrate each best practice, so that team members can learn and practice them until they become habits. We’ve identified four best practices that every organization needs to cultivate in their habits and culture.

#1: Inviting Engagement and Candid Dialogue

The two strategies I teach to foster open, engaged, and highly collaborative communication are:

  • Soliciting engagement through asking for opinions
  • Talking tentatively

Often when my team comes into an organization, we find that they have been operating in a paradigm in which the CEO does most of the talking and critical thinking, while fielding very little information or input from the team. The cost of this is high, because leaders are prone to making poor decisions when they lack the critical information and perspectives possessed by their people on the ground. This habit of CEOs is common because when they start a business, they are the ones who, for example, understand their clients most—since they work with them directly! But when the business grows, and the CEO’s role moves into growth and strategy and away from client interactions, they may find it hard to accept that they no longer know the clients or their situations as well as they used to. In fact, it’s usually the client delivery team and salespeople who have the most current and relevant information and insights, so the CEO should invite opinions from them!

Inviting engagement and soliciting relevant opinions works best when it’s a habit that becomes part of the culture. You might have heard someone say, or even thought to yourself, I wish we had a more open, collaborative, and inclusive culture. I almost never get to contribute my ideas or share important feedback that would benefit the company! I guess no one cares what I think. In fact, the other people usually care a lot about relevant input, but other assumptions and habits get in the way. They might think they don’t have the time to ask, or they just might not be in the habit of asking. Or they might assume that if someone has something relevant to say, they will. However, over the years I’ve learned that people in the workplace, as a group, generally stay quiet and don’t volunteer extra information unless they’re asked. In fact, to be respectful to others, most people feel it’s not their place to speak until asked.

To create an open, collaborative, inclusive culture, you’ve got to habitually invite input and opinions whenever you’ve got multiple stakeholders involved in a project or issue. I have trained myself to always be asking, “What do you think?” Because I’m always asking, they don’t wonder whether I want their opinion—of course I do! Their input and opinions are extraordinarily valuable and necessary for our success. Team members who work with me now often anticipate this question and offer their opinions even before I ask.

There is a second dialogue behavior that goes hand in hand with the question “What do you think?” that actively cultivates an environment in which people feel free to share what’s really on their minds. It’s called “talking tentatively.” Here’s how it works: Let’s say that I’m negotiating to solve a problem with my team about the schedule for a high-stakes project. I have a solid opin- ion about it, but I also want their opinions and input before I make a final decision, because I might be missing something or perceiving the situation incorrectly. I know (from tons of experience) that if I share my opinion in an authoritative, definitive way, it sounds like I’ve made the decision, and therefore the dialogue and input from the team will come to a screeching halt. No one wants to challenge the boss’s decision once it’s made. And if I ask for thoughts at that point, it sounds like a rhetorical question and leaves people wondering if it’s a test of their compliance.

Instead, whenever I’m working with the team to solve issues, plan, or make decisions, I’m always talking tentatively. Using tentative language implies that my ideas and opinions aren’t fixed and final. It will likely sound something like this: “I’m thinking we should move project A forward and delay project B until second quarter. What do you think?” If I present my ideas as a directive or a demand, I shut down the collaboration, as team members resign themselves to doing what I say, whether they think it’ll work or not. But if I say, “I’m thinking . . . What do you think?” This lets the team know that I’m receptive to feedback and open to change. It creates space for others to ask questions and bring challenges forward. It also allows you to test ideas, theories, and alternative solutions without signaling a clear bias. Whatever plans and agreements result are better set up to succeed.

Some more examples of tentative talk include:

  • “Given these facts, I’m considering this (plan, solution, etc.) . . .”
  • “I’ve considered (context), which is why I’m intending to . . .”
  • “The story I’ve told myself about this situation is . . .”
  • “The meaning I’ve made of this information is . . .”
  • “I’m not certain of this, but here’s how I see it . . .”

To learn more about the remaining 4 best practices that every organization needs to cultivate in their habits and culture and go in-depth into the 7 agreements that every team and leader needs to create a thriving and sustainable business, order a copy of my newly released book, The People Part: Seven Agreements Entrepreneurs and Leaders Make to Build Teams, Accelerate Growth, and Banish Burnout for Good, at anniehymanpratt.com/book.

 

Here’s to your leadership success!

 

Warmly,

Annie

 

Leading Edge Team’s CEO, Annie Hyman Pratt’s new book, The People Part: Seven Agreements Entrepreneurs and Leaders Make to Build Teams, Accelerate Growth, and Banish Burnout for Good is being released April 26, 2022.

You can pre-order it here: 

 

This book is for you if…

  • You’re just starting out
  • You have a business that is stalling
  • You’re a leader feeling like you are just not good with people, but you really, really want to be
  • You’re a member of a team within a business
  • You’re an entrepreneur with a great idea and no desire to manage people
  •  

The People Part is a comprehensive tool kit for how to work effectively with your people, with workable solutions for CEOs, business leaders, and team members. It will teach you the competencies that you (almost certainly) don’t yet have (and didn’t know you needed).

 

Advanced Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Mindfulness and Moving Through Change

Mindfulness and Moving Through Change

Recently, I made a conscious choice to move from sunny California to snowy Vermont, and as timing would have it, I drove across the country to my new home in January. When I received the keys and opened the door, it was confirmation that this was exactly where I was supposed to be and that I’d made the right choice.

I grappled with making this decision for many reasons, but ultimately I knew it was the best one for my family and me even if it appeared like chaos and a major upheaval. Before I made this decision (and just as I coach my clients), I allowed plenty of time for critical thinking and to sit with the unfolding as I made space for more information to be revealed. From the very start, I chose many key tools (that we also teach to our clients) to help me stay anchored as I pondered my next steps.

As you consider a significant change, it is helpful to be mindful of the following:     

  • Pause, take your time; allow things to play out and for more information to come forth, which gives space for your best thinking and decision making.  
  • Appreciate the knowledge you have, and the many things you can do each day and can control, and surrender to those things you cannot control. Know life goes on either way.
  • Embrace what life teaches and what you learn about yourself as you move through change. It adds to your confidence and clarity about who you are as a whole person.
  • Breathe; be present today, right now. Remember if you feel powerless, you are not being mindful or present in this very moment, today. Yesterday is the past and tomorrow is the future—you are only able to make decisions in this present moment.

Also consider the following questions and use your answers as your anchor:

  • Anchor thought: “How do I want to show up while change is happening?” 
  • Anchor thought: “When I do this, what impact will I have on myself or others?”
  • Anchor thought: “Is the timing, my resources and abilities aligned to the end goal?” 

With all of these key tools, I was able to mindfully approach this move with my best thinking intact. I discovered a myriad of open roads, and many choices had to be made along the way. Just like life (and work) presents to us, the roads may vary and are not always as expected. The course sometimes has to change, but when you know how to stay anchored in the outcome you are going for, pause and allow yourself plenty of space for decision making you can navigate the unexpected.

On my journey, I remained mindful of how each road brought me closer to my end goal even though the path wasn’t a straight line—and I welcomed it. Granted, I turned around a few times—and took in the experience—the freeways with heavy traffic, two-lane highways with interesting landscape and viewpoints, curvy country roads with locally owned cafes. I opened myself to a few conversations with strangers and a glimpse of Americana that I don’t have every day.

I’ll admit that I could have done without the “stop and go” driving on roads under repair, or those short miles with potholes and gravel, but there is a degree of satisfaction I feel within myself knowing that I didn’t react to it. I chose to let up on the gas, be patient and take my time. That learning remains. “Letting up on the gas and taking my time” is more than often a good thing that I can easily apply in all of life. 

As I drove across the country, I began to realize that the roads were symbolic of the variety of changes that life presents. I knew it was within my control to choose my intention for the day, and to choose realistic expectations of myself (offer self-compassion), and to appreciate and connect positively to all that the miles of the day offered. 

In the moment, in the middle of nowhere, it also occurred to me that the only impact I was making was on me and my day, and that felt both empowering and calming. I noticed my breathing, and I breathed in deeply, and as I let it out, a small smile of peace and contentment crossed my face. I was present, living in the moment, and I anchored in a level of acceptance—I was confident I would be okay with the changes on the road, whether the next tight, steep bends were difficult to drive or not.   

Choosing mindfulness brings security, and eliminates the potential stress an unknown situation can cause when moving through change and the unknown. On the road, I encountered people and a snowstorm that had an impact on my situation. As expected, some were helpful and others were not, even with brief questions about the area. But I was there for my every step of the way. Being present and being okay with not knowing exactly how the drive will go or how my interactions will go, is putting mindfulness into real life practice.

I knew my intention was to get out of the snowstorm before dark, and fortunately, within a few miles, the highway dropped in elevation and there was no snow. I felt a degree of relief as the sun poked through the clouds, because I was on a road I had not driven before. Tensions have the potential to rise when we’re in the middle of something we’ve not experienced before. 

When you are in a situation where there’s no turning back, then like me, you choose to drive forward, even when faced with the unfamiliar. There is no way around it. Accept that change can be a challenge and a teacher to us as we break out of old habits and enter into the new.

During change, your awareness will be raised to the next best thing that happens for you when you live in mindfulness today. You will find yourself saying, “I am really okay in this situation.” Living in choice is key, while simultaneously considering the impact of your choice. Sometimes you might choose the hard path, while someone next to you chooses an easier one.

During all of life’s cycles of change, have self-compassion. Be kind to yourself if you need time. Negotiate and make new agreements with yourself, because expectations don’t always play out. 

Surrender what you can’t control… let it go, to “let things be” is a practice and a choice.    

How you feel within yourself is what’s important and getting to a place where you say “I am okay with this.” 

In all things there is choice, and asserting that choice during change can be comforting and satisfying.     

When I saw the sign, “Welcome to Vermont” I felt inner relief. Knowing I was almost there, hands on the steering wheel, I noticed my breath. I was calm and happy. A new place, new environment. A bigtime change! I smiled with satisfaction. Like so many things, this experience is a vivid reminder that serves a purpose—it keeps me inspired to be courageous to seek change in my business life and personal life. The same is true for you.  

I thought about some of what I had learned about myself along the way that added to the confidence of my choice: 

  1. Being present in every situation increased my fulfillment. 
  2. I was open to the inevitable learning. 
  3. My own experience of change put my teaching into action. 
  4. Choosing mindfulness served as my guide as I drove the miles and journeyed on. 

When I finally reached my destination, I stepped out into the snow in the driveway, walked to the door and eagerly turned the key. I walked through my new home and took it all in. I didn’t rush it, I enjoyed the moment.

Life is happening now. How will you be present for it at each moment?

 

Barbara

 

Leading Edge Team’s CEO, Annie Hyman Pratt’s new book, The People Part: Seven Agreements Entrepreneurs and Leaders Make to Build Teams, Accelerate Growth, and Banish Burnout for Good is being released April 26, 2022.

You can pre-order it here: 

 

This book is for you if…

  • You’re just starting out
  • You have a business that is stalling
  • You’re a leader feeling like you are just not good with people, but you really, really want to be
  • You’re a member of a team within a business
  • You’re an entrepreneur with a great idea and no desire to manage people
  •  

The People Part is a comprehensive tool kit for how to work effectively with your people, with workable solutions for CEOs, business leaders, and team members. It will teach you the competencies that you (almost certainly) don’t yet have (and didn’t know you needed).

 

Advanced Praise for The People Part:

“Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Recognizing When You Are in Self-Protection

Recognizing When You Are in Self-Protection

Self-Leadership is about showing up as your best self and making decisions from this place versus reacting in self-protective behavior!  

You may or may not think about behavior as you work, but I suggest that self-protective behaviors are universal to humans, so read on. To grow in Self-Leadership, all of us have to raise our awareness about how self-protective behaviors have the potential to derail our best thinking and our best thinking is needed to be an effective leader. 

Self-Leadership is a skill that can be learned, like any other skill. And when Self-Leadership is your internal habit, you become a fully empowered leader able to actively choose a response in the present moment that will serve both the short term and the long term of your business goals. When you build a team of individuals who have all developed the skill of Self-Leadership, you will have an amazing edge. 

Let’s take a closer look at what happens within you and your business when you’re in self-protection mode. That way, you’ll be aware when it’s happening, and you’ll be able to take action to shift yourself out of it! 

It all begins with learning to recognize when you’re in self-protection. Without awareness, you cannot make change. Self-protection—the fight, flight, freeze, or please response— served us well when we were cave dwellers, under constant threat from the elements, wild animals, or invading warrior tribes. Today, the irony is that in modern scenarios these responses not only don’t protect us, but they’re counterproductive, creating all kinds of problems in business and personal relationships. 

Behavioral scientists explain that these reactive behaviors are not adapted to modern-day human life, in which we encounter very few immediate threats, unlike our ancestors who encountered many. Instead, in today’s society, we are continuously challenged with psychological stresses that involve anticipating the farther-away future. Humans living in wealthy industrialized nations rarely worry about starvation; instead, they worry about paying taxes, getting promoted at work, sending kids to college, et cetera. Our world has so many psychological threats that it’s impossible to avoid ever going into self-protection. Frankly, it’s a miracle we don’t spend all our time in self-protection! 

However, to perform well, we must spend as little time as possible in self-protection, and this is why it’s incredibly important to recognize those behaviors in ourselves and others. So what do those thoughts and behaviors look like? There are way too many to list, but some of the most common include avoiding, hiding, blaming, judging, rationalizing, and being paralyzed in the face of overwhelm. You can see the downward spiral illustrated vividly in the graphic below. I call it the “lower spiral” because it’s the lower half of a whole model, and when you’re down there, you can easily get swept down the proverbial drain! Your best thinking is not available when you are operating from this destructive lower spiral. I constantly remind the CEOs and leaders who work with me that “Nothing good happens in self-protection!” 

But of course, we all become emotionally reactive at one time or another. I usually recognize when I’m in self-protection because I feel an almost uncontrollable urge to say or do something immediately. My heart rate speeds up, my cheeks get hot, and I can’t sit still. Most people can relate to that type of discomfort. Here’s an example: Imagine you are in an important meeting and a teammate questions the progress of a big project you are leading. They express “concern” that it’s not further along, phrasing it in a way that implies your performance is lacking. Let’s add one more stressful element: The CEO is in the meeting too! 

What happens at that moment? With a flush of embarrassment and your heart racing, a self-protective reaction usually plays out: You might defend yourself and go into explaining every aspect of what you are doing and show why the other perspective is wrong. This leads to a debate with the other team member, where you both engage in blaming, rationalizing, and defending, causing the meeting to totally veer off course. Now neither of you looks good, valuable time has been wasted, and your CEO is losing confidence and questioning the team’s ability to resolve issues productively. You leave the meeting feeling unappreciated, misunderstood, and without having made any progress on the project. Plus, you now believe that others perceive you poorly. 

Blaming, defending, and rationalizing were the main offenders in this example, but there’s a whole slew of self-protective behaviors that crop up whether people are high-level leaders or individual contributors. Here are some of the most common.

  • Ignore and Avoid: This is the first (and most common) way that we get self-protective. Often this happens when we get overwhelmed, and it can manifest as procrastination. 
  • Deflect with Denial or Rationalization: Say for example you know you are going to miss a deadline—you may deny and/or rationalize the impact of missing the deadline by making excuses for why it is happening that may seem logical but it’s a bigger form of avoiding. 
  • Judge: Making evaluations of people and situations to discern if things are going positively or negatively, or to identify danger, is a human imperative for making effective decisions. When we do this well, it’s often called “having good judgment.” But when we make moral or value judgments by assessing people and situations as bad or wrong, we instantly close our minds and move deep into self-protection. 
  • Blame and Defend: “To make a mistake is human, but to blame it on someone else is even more human!” I love this anonymous quote because it reminds me just how automatic it is for humans to blame. If you’ve ever had a toddler, you probably know that they’re naturally able to lie and blame others long before they even have the cognitive ability to make it believable. Defensiveness may sometimes seem warranted, but don’t be fooled, as it’s just another form of blame. 
  • Bonus: Self-Blame: It is essentially conflict with yourself, and it easily escalates to shame as the dialogue in your head becomes self-criticism, which never ends well.

Again, it is totally normal as a human to go into self-protection, but in business and when working on a team, your best thinking is not available when you are in self-protection. Becoming aware of it is the first step to making a change. 

To learn more about self-protection and the steps to take to help you move into Self-Leadership, pre-order a copy of my soon to be released book The People Part: Seven Agreements Entrepreneurs and Leaders Make to Build Teams, Accelerate Growth, and Banish Burnout for Good. 

The People Part is a comprehensive tool kit for how to work effectively with your people, with workable solutions for CEOs, business leaders, and team members. It will teach you the competencies that you (almost certainly) don’t yet have (and didn’t know you needed). 

Advanced Praise for The People Part: “Annie’s approach to managing people has transformed our business here at Hay House and my life as CEO. Let her help you and your business too.” — Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, Inc.

Warmly,
Annie

 

Leading Edge Team’s CEO, Annie Hyman Pratt’s new book, The People Part: Seven Agreements Entrepreneurs and Leaders Make to Build Teams, Accelerate Growth, and Banish Burnout for Good is being released April 26, 2022.

You can pre-order it here: 

 

This book is for you if…

  • You’re just starting out
  • You have a business that is stalling
  • You’re a leader feeling like you are just not good with people, but you really, really want to be
  • You’re a member of a team within a business
  • You’re an entrepreneur with a great idea and no desire to manage people
  •  

 

 

How to Hire A-Players

100 behavioral interviewing questions that will help you hire the best!

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My Gift to You!

In this powerful recipe, Annie Hyman Pratt teaches you the 5 essential ingredients that every Entrepreneur, CEO and Business Leader needs to build their High-Performing Team. Keep this handy!

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