Manage Yourself First

The other day I was listening to “7 Habit for Managers” by Stephen Covey (author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which this audiobook is based on and I highly, highly recommend), and he mentioned that in order to manage others effectively, you have to manage yourself effectively first.  I was so excited by that because it’s very much aligned with what I believe yet so few talks/articles/videos about leadership discuss this aspect.  So, what does it mean to manage yourself and why is it so essential to being a good leader?

Imagine you enter a room where you’re about to start your weekly team meeting and the topic is customer satisfaction.  As fate would have it, you just got off of a phone call with a customer who was very upset by a recent interaction with a member of your team and ended up taking their anger out on you.  How do you run your team meeting?  Do you come from a place of anger and focusing on all of the problems you see with your team and how they’re managing their customers?  Or do you come from a place of understanding – both of the customer’s and your employees’ views – and focus on what they’re doing well and how you can all continue to improve?  Your answer comes from how you manage yourself.  If you let your emotions get the best of you, you’ll always focus on the actions that align with your feelings at the time.  If you take the time to reflect on your emotions and why you’re feeling them, you’ll be able to control them and even prevent them from occurring so you can show up how you want to show up and lead with your full potential.

Managing yourself is really knowing yourself.  Why are you working at your current job?  What are your short- and long-term goals – both personally and professionally?  What excites you?  What makes you angry?  By better understanding ourselves, we are much more well equipped to understand everyone else, which in turn helps unleash true potential.  The empathy and care you show your team will increase their trust in you as a leader and their confidence in themselves to make decisions independently and effectively.  Share your vision and goals with your team.  Watch as they adopt a similar image and set of objectives for themselves and synergize to achieve them faster than you ever thought possible.

Another thing that Stephen Covey said in his audio book that really struck me is that employees are volunteers.  “They volunteer the best part of themselves – their hearts and minds,” he said.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics put out an Economic News Release in 2016 that showed that the median tenure for employees age 65 and over is 10.3 years, whereas the median tenure for workers age 25 to 34 is just 3.2 years.  Millennials stay on their positions less than 1/3 as much as Baby Boomers.  They don’t stay in a role just because you pay them.  They have to believe in what they’re doing and they have to believe in their team.  A good leader recognizes this fact and works to really get to know their team – what do they like to do, what are they good at, what are their goals?  And before a manager can really understand their employee’s drive, values, and passion, they have to understand their own.

So, how do you begin to manage yourself?  As Mr. Covey states: begin with the end in mind.  What are you trying to accomplish – now and down the road?  How do those goals align with your values and who you want to be?  Once you know your values, you’ve unlocked the secret to yourself.  When you’re happy and feeling satisfied, things are aligned with your values.  When you’re angry or upset, something is going against your values.  And that something is our interpretation of that situation – whether it’s “true” or not.  Perception is reality, as my old manager used to tell me.  If we think something is true, it’s true.  We can shift our energy around a situation by changing our interpretation of it to one that is more aligned with our values.  And if we can do that for ourselves, we can teach our team to do that, too.

The best leaders are those that manage themselves first.  Only those that have a strong vision of the future can lead their teams there.  Energy Leadership is an amazing program that can help you become your most effective and satisfied self you could imagine.  Let me know if you’re interested in learning more!