No one else hears it, yet it can be quite loud — as well as effective. ‘Self-talk’.
And, it’s critical for effective Leadership.
When we talk about Leadership qualities, most of the conversation tends to be about what an effective leader DOES. Leadership is certainly about doing good stuff but, at the heart of it is having the right inner voice. Leaders who have it propel themselves through a solution-seeking lens of optimism and hope and are the ones who lead us through difficult times.
Self-talk is the stream of consciousness that runs through our head every day. It can be positive or negative — and typically falls in line with whether you are a positive or negative person. Successful people use positive self-talk to overcome the stray negativity that enters their mindset from time to time.
I’d rather be optimistic and wrong than pessimistic and right.
Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.
Besides the obvious benefit of using positive self-talk as a spring board to create solutions, there is some research that also points to some interesting physical and psychological benefits:
These are big WINS that are worth paying attention to!
Before I get too far into this blog post, I need to give credit to Chris Smeaton who shared his concept of ‘Failing Forward’ a few years ago when he was Superintendent of an Alberta school division. He has since retired, but is still influential in the educational field. Chris is a quality person who believes in the possible — a leader who builds a culture of risk taking and emotional support — someone who embraces the idea of failure being a springboard to better things.
Our conversation was about 3 years ago at a conference table. I loved the visual imagery of his ‘failing forward’ message.
Even if you’re experiencing a temporary pause in your momentum, you can still move forward if you’re supported and encouraged, but not if you’re condemned for your mistake during your exploration of something new.
I first heard about the concept of Servant Leadership several years ago and appreciated its main ideas:
A servant leader is someone who “shares power, puts the needs of the employees first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. Instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people.”
It’s really about framing one’s MINDSET about how you relate to others in the workplace — about how one goes about their day — in other words, how a leader thinks, speaks and acts to support the people in the organization.
When I contextualize it for myself, I picture it being about my words and my actions that build the confidence, abilities and leadership in others. It’s also an area where I continually think of ways to become better.
Being part of a smaller school district, it is imperative that I lead in areas that build capacity — both in individuals and in our district. It is capacity that helps to build the redundancies in skills and knowledge which enable our district to withstand things like sudden illnesses or departures.