December 2012 | Management
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: Charles E. Dwyer, PhD, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership Division, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
Replace beliefs, behaviors, and emotions that are holding you back with ones that will better help you achieve your goals.
A leader’s effectiveness is a direct function of his or her behavior as interpreted by others. While it might be tempting to blame those you lead for their unwillingness to follow, it is your behavior that builds trust, motivation, and influence — or it creates suspicion, apprehension, and discouragement. Becoming a more powerful and influential leader, then, means replacing less effective behaviors with more effective ones. But trying to change through cognition alone (“mind over matter”) doesn’t work. It takes a blend of cognition and emotion working together.
The Self-Design method was created to help replace thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that aren’t achieving desired outcomes. It is based on 35 years of longitudinal studies, and has been used by organizations, teams, and individuals for decades — with compelling results.
Step 1: Identify the old program (the belief, behavior, or emotion you want to change). Think of a situation you encounter regularly that makes you angry, upset, fearful, or uncomfortable. Write a one- or two-sentence summary of the belief or the circumstances that trigger the discomfort. Assess your old program by asking the following questions:
(Most of our mental functioning takes place below consciousness and we tend to rationalize and justify negative thoughts, feelings, and actions. These questions bring the negative programs up to consciousness so that we can override them and become more of the person we consciously choose to be.)
Step 2: Design the new program. Identify a new belief, emotion, and action pattern that supports your best interests, and summarize the new program in a few short phrases or sentences. Use the five questions above to assess the value of your new program. Any beliefs/behaviors in the new program can only be maintained if you can answer yes to at least three of the five questions for both the behaviors and beliefs.
Step 3: Fill out a Self-Design Worksheet. [see below]. Use these definitions to help you complete it:
Response I Wish to Change (Belief, Emotion, or Behavior):
Step 4: Install the new program. For three weeks, repeat a mental (imaginative) rehearsal twice a day for 5-10 minutes. The more relaxed you are during the rehearsal, the more effective it will be. (Note that this replaces the common rehearsal of negative emotions we all perform several times a day (e.g., “he makes me angry”).
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, Director of Innovative Learning Solutions at Wharton Executive Education. It is jointly sponsored by Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, Wharton Professor of Management Michael Useem, Director. Nano Tools Academic Director, Professor Adam Grant.
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