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"If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it."
Welcome to the April edition of Insights. We hope you will find this month's selection of articles interesting and thought-provoking, and that you will take away from it at least one thought or idea that you will find helpful in your personal or professional life.
Often it doesn't take very much to make a big difference in performance. Raising the temperature of water by a single degree from 211º to 212 º for example, is enough to change a liquid that is simply very hot to a force that can power a giant steam engine.
Examples of situations in which a little extra effort made a dramatic difference in results abound. During the 2004 Summer Olympic Games the margin of victory in the men's 800 meter event was 0.71 seconds. In the women's long jump it was 11 centimeters. Clearly legendary coach Vince Lombardi was right when he said, "Inches make a champion."
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|What Is The Source of Your Personal Power?
Each of us to one degree or another is continually involved in the process of influencing the thoughts and actions of other people, and correspondingly, we regularly experience the effects of the influence of other people on ourselves. This capacity to affect the behavior of others can be described as the exercise of personal power. The use of personal power is generally acknowledged as being a natural social tendency of human beings, and its practice can be observed in virtually any situation in which people interact with one another. A person's ability to effectively exercise personal power can be a critically important factor in gaining the help and cooperation of others in achieving personal and professional goals which in turn, can play a key role in one's overall success.
One's personal power can be derived from a variety of different sources, but can generally be characterized as stemming from a person's position, personality or attributes.
Position power reflects authority a person has by virtue of the rank he or she holds in an organization's hierarchy such as in a business, government, family or other social structure. It is power that is bestowed on a person by the organization of which he or she is a member by either a higher authority, popular choice, custom or heredity. Sometimes position power is described as being the opposite of personal power because its source is the organization to which the person belongs rather than being an intrinsic characteristic or ability residing in the person exercising the power. However, a strong case can be made that any power a person displays in interacting with others is personal power regardless of its source. After all, positions don't exercise power, people do.
When a person relies on position power to influence the behavior of others in organizations, he or she is simply executing the authority that comes from being in charge or of being the boss. Position power can be very compelling. People who possess it usually have a great deal of control over others in an organization because they generally have the authority to impose undesirable consequence if their directives aren't followed. People who primarily use position power to influence others take what amounts to a "do it or else" approach. While such an approach does work, it rarely captures the hearts and minds of those being influenced especially if they are subordinates. As a result, those on the receiving end of position power tend to continually try to find ways to dilute or negate its impact on them and rarely develop any positive impressions of the person executing the power. Furthermore, the elements reflecting position power must always be evident. The minute they are absent, the impact of position power is lost.
An attribute is any quality, characteristic trait or feature a person may exhibit or have the potential to exhibit. Knowledge and skills, attitudes, physical aspects, material possessions, social standing and personal relationships all represent categories of personal attributes that a person may possess. Attribute power derives from a person's ability to leverage one or more attributes to influence the behavior of others. The underlying strength of attribute power rests in the fact that people and organizations desire to associate or interact with those possessing important attributes so that they can benefit from them.
There are two ways in which attribute power may be manifested. One is through the way a person's recognized expertise influences the thinking of others. An expert in any field commands the attention of others and through his or her demonstrated proficiency engenders trust and respect. An individual such as a prominent doctor, businessman, scientist, sports coach or any other expert who has clearly exhibited proficiency in a particular field is very likely to be in a position to influence what others believe and how they approach the issues relating to that field. Such individuals are commonly referred to as thought leaders.
The other way in which a person may exercise attribute power is by determining the conditions under which he or she will share his or her desirable attributes with others. An important advantage of possessing attribute power is that it can be used to get others to voluntarily provide you with the things you want in life in exchange for your allowing them access to your attribute(s). Everyday examples of this can be seen in the incredibly high salaries and extensive perks that are provided to company CEOs, professional athletes and television and movie personalities whose talents and expertise are in high demand.
Personality power refers to personal power that comes from having appealing interpersonal or social skills that enable a person to influence others by connecting with them physically, emotionally and intellectually. It is often referred to as having a "magnetic personality" or as possessing charisma. Each of us has at some point encountered people who have inspired us with their words and motivated us by their energy. We may even have been drawn to them and found ourselves performing beyond expectation to accomplish their goals. Some examples of individuals who have possessed personality power include President John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
While the concept of personal power can be somewhat elusive and may at first appear difficult to come by, of the three forms of personal power discussed, it is the one that can most easily be developed. At the core of personality power is communication excellence, and there are virtually limitless resources available today to the person who desires to increase personality power through improved interpersonal communication skills.
Strive for a Balance
It is very hard to be effective in influencing other people if a person's personal power rests solely in one domain. Position power by itself can cause a manager be effective for a while, but it is difficult for anyone to be consistently effective relying on position power alone. At some point "the boss" needs to demonstrate a level of knowledge and skills appropriate to his or her position of authority. Additionally, people will not obey directives indefinitely unless the person issuing them demonstrates some emotional or intellectual connection with them.
Attribute power is a great source of personal power so long as it exists. Many attributes such as physical strength and appearance, money and personal relationships can diminish over time and perhaps disappear totally. If attribute power is the only thing a person has, when it goes away the person has nothing left. Similarly, personality power can rule the day for a while, but eventually words alone will no longer suffice and people will want to see some actions of substance to support them.
The three domains of personal power can be graphically represented by three spheres. The greater the overlap of the three personal power spheres, the more balanced and more effective one will be in exercising sustainable personal power.
Learn more about developing your personal power.
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| THE "SUCCESS FORMULA"
There is a familiar saying that if you keep doing what you're doing, you're going to keep getting more of what you're getting. This is O.K. if what you're getting is what you want, but definitely not O.K. if you are seeking to achieve something more. The results people achieve in virtually every facet of their lives can be depicted by the following formula:
M x (KSA + G) x E = B → R
The characters in this formula stand for the following:
Motivation impacting on Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes plus Goals interacting within a specific Environment generate performance Behaviors which drive Results. Let's examine this formula by starting at the end with Results.
Our Results in life represent the outcomes we derive from our daily actions or performance Behaviors. Simply put, the results we get in life are primarily the outcome of what we personally do. There is no denying that to some degree our results are affected by factors at play in the Environment in which we live and work, many of which may be out of our control. Environment can have a significant impact on our performance behaviors, either enhancing our efforts or diminishing them, and consequently, can have an impact on our results. However, most of what we achieve or not achieve, is the result of our own intentional behaviors.
One of the key factors that determine our behaviors and therefore, our results is our Goals. All behaviors are goal-directed whether we are consciously aware of it or not. It is our drive to achieve goals that generates the results we get. Since results stem from our behaviors, and our behaviors are determined by our goals, the quality of our goals therefore, can have a significant impact on our results. The problem usually is not so much that people do not have goals. Rather, it is that their goals are often not clearly defined, set too low or are intrinsically counterproductive. more about effective goal setting
Hardly anyone would dispute the importance of knowledge and skills [K&S] in personal achievement. Knowledge and skills play a significant role in determining the effectiveness of individual as well as organizational goal-directed behavior. The more a person knows about a task or activity and the more skillful he or she is in executing it, the greater is the likelihood that the person will succeed at it. Another way of saying it is that knowledge and skills are key enablers for achieving goals.
Equally important although not always recognized as such, is the contribution of Attitude to the effectiveness of performance behaviors. Our attitudes are the results of our beliefs and values, and form out habits of thought. These habits of thought not only impact how we see and react to the world around us, but also affect how we see ourselves. Attitudes are often based not on reality but rather, simply on how we think or feel about something. How we think and feel in turn then becomes our reality, and this can significantly shape our behaviors. A person's attitude can therefore, function as an important multiplier or diminisher of his or her knowledge and skills. more about attitudes
The [M] in this equation represents motivation. Motivation can be defined as the degree of drive, persistence and intensity of effort expended by an individual to achieve a specific outcome. It is that force which moves a person to take action. It is what gives purpose and direction to behavior. Motivation can be external (extrinsic) such as with some sort of incentive, reward, or internal (self-motivation). Internal motivation, also known as personal motivation, is an unobservable force within an individual that generates his or her effort, drive and persistence toward the achievement of a goal. The degree and strength of a person's motivation is the single most important determining factor in the extent to which he or she will acquire essential knowledge and skills, shape productive mental attitudes, set effective goals and commit to do what needs to be done to achieve desired results.
The bottom-line is that for there to be a positive change in results, there must first be an improvement in performance behaviors which can be achieved by a positive change (↑) in any or all of the elements that contribute to performance behaviors (actions). We can then rewrite the above equations to represent a formula for performance improvement or "Success Formula":
M↑x (KSA↑ + G↑)+ E↑ = PBC → R↑
Reading the success formula from left to right; a positive change in either Motivation, KSAs, Goals or the work/life Environment will create positive behavioral change (PBC) which will lead to improved Results.
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|YOUR PERSUASIVE EDGE
The Importance of Effective Listening
"A good listener is not only popular everywhere,
but after a while he gets to know something."
- Wilson Mizner, American Playwright and Entrepreneur
At first, we might not fully recognize how our listening skills can influence our effectiveness in communicating with others. Listening after all, focuses on receiving a message not delivering it, and what exactly does how we listen to others have to do with our effectiveness with them? The answer is a lot!
First of all, our ability to listen effectively has a tremendous impact on how clearly we come to understand the needs, desires, and concerns of others. People are like any other subject matter; the better we know and understand them, the better we can deal with them, and the better we can communicate with them, which logically leads to our increased capacity for interpersonal effectiveness. Listening skills allow one to make sense of what another person is saying. Effective listening involves more than just accurately hearing another's words. A good listener is also attentive to non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and posture to get the full gist of what the speaker is communicating. Furthermore, knowing what drives another and what issues are important to him can be of invaluable assistance in helping a communicator effectively tailor his message and approach for optimum effectiveness.
Effective listening is also important for another major reason. People can sense whether or not they are actively being listened to. Basic elements of good listening skills include sitting still, maintaining good eye contact, letting the person speak without interrupting and using listening body language such as leaning forward and nodding. When these signs are absent, a speaker may get the feeling that the person he is talking with is not paying attention and doesn't care about what the speaker has to say. At best this can generate a lack of interest or a sense of apathy in the speaker regarding the personal interaction or at worst, a feeling of distrust about the listener (non-listener actually). The presence of mutual trust is a critical component of an effective personal interaction, the establishment of which is vital for personal effectiveness.
There is also another aspect pertaining to listening that is significant regarding interpersonal communication and consequently, important to interpersonal effectiveness. That is the fact that the quality of a speaker's listening skills is often demonstrated during his or her message delivery. No communication is ever totally one-directional. Even if the message appears to be flowing mostly in one direction from sender to receiver, the receiver generally tends to offer some level of feedback such as my asking a question, expressing agreement or disagreement, or by conveying an emotion of some kind. If the speaker resists input from the receiver by providing little if any opportunity to comment or otherwise demonstrates unresponsiveness to such feedback by interrupting or talking over a receiver, the receiver may quickly get the impression that the speaker isn't really concerned with what she thinks or feels, and conclude that the speaker is an inconsiderate and insensitive person. Such a conclusion certainly wouldn't contribute to personal effectiveness from either person's perspective.
Not only should an effective communicator allow for listener feedback, he should encourage it. In the words of Stephen Covey, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
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