In a previous blog I wrote about how my company was changing. Well, here’s the promised evolution update.
And it is only a small update, not the finished report. Changing a small company can be fast, when you have staff or use third parties. Changing a small company when you are a solopreneur is a much, much slower process. It is slow for a lot of reasons. In truth, a main reason is lack of time to give the change the headspace it has really needed. It’s also slow because of the options that are open to me. In fact, there is a wealth of options for the future direction of my company. There are actually so many it has been hard to pin down my choices.
However, another reason it has been slow, and more painful than I had bargained-for, is that I am looking to change something that has served me well for seven years. It has been a part of me and, of course, I have been pretty much all of it. That’s always the way with owner-managed businesses which feature the owner as the service lead.
So, what is this evolution update?
I have refocused my core offer. Specifically, I received some helpful feedback about my website. “What do you DO, Astrid?”. When you have taken an age doing and redoing your website, that’s a tough question to be asked. As a result, I looked yet again at the website, and at how I help my clients. By talking it through with people close to me, I have been able to focus down what I do. More than that, I have been able to articulate it a bit more clearly (at least, I think I have – you will have to be the judge of my success or otherwise!). At least, I have been able to analyse what I do and simplify it into clear products and stages.
I told you it was small!
As a matter of fact, it’s really only the website that has changed. Nevertheless, I am reporting back, as my accountability task. The actual services I offer remain the same. The important difference (I hope) is that the emphasis is no longer on a menu of services, but on the problem I am seeking to solve with those services.
Oddly, for a coach, this has been quite hard. It has been hard, because I am in the moment with the clients. It is only after I have helped them achieve the solution they want, that I reflect back and analyse in detail, HOW I did what I did. So, to unpick this and understand it “up front”, has been a challenge. A challenge, however, that I have enjoyed. It hasn’t been hard in any painful sense. It has simply been difficult because it has been new. As with all new things, it is taking a while for it to become comfortable.
And that is where I am right now – wearing in a new way of thinking about my company and my delivery. A bit like new shoes, but without the blisters!
And what will the next evolution update entail?
In truth, I have no idea – yet. I will let this new, “productised”, approach to my company sit and settle for a while. It may not make a blind bit of difference (although I really hope that is not the case!). I am a very straightforward consultant, as my testimonials make clear time and again. That is why I have adopted a straightforward approach to my services – there’s the simplified three-step process for consultancy, and a range of services which are now for sale directly. We shall see where this takes my company. And you can be sure I will report back, when I know more.
If you are interested in finding out more about the services, please go to the “How we help you” tab in the menu above, and hopefully it will all be clear. Hopefully, you will also feel you understand the value of how I could help your organisation. You might even buy something!
Perfectionism is a common trait among leaders. It’s the near-uncontrollable drive to achieve excellence in everything we do. However, when taken to the extreme, perfectionism can become a real problem, rather than an asset. In fact, it can wreck careers, relationships and even lives. The poor head teacher who took her own life earlier this year in response to what appears a partial and ill-expressed Ofsted review of her school is a tragic example of how perfectionism can really damage us.
In January 2023 I led two workshops on this topic at the Academy of Women’s Leadership conference in London. To be honest, I chose the topic because many of my clients struggle with perfectionism – and so do I!
“Hello, my name is Astrid, I am 57 and I am a recovering workaholic perfectionist”.
I get the challenges. I really do.
We were able to have a great discussion in both sessions, where I shared some simple hints and hacks to shift the perfectionist mindset and allow in a little self-tolerance, or “self-tenderness” as one of my lovely audience termed it. I love that!
To explain a little about this, I thought I would share three simple ways to tackle perfectionism and find ways you can accept things being OK as a leader. Here they are (but remember, they are just the tip of the iceberg):
- Recognize that perfection is unattainable. The first step in overcoming perfectionism is to recognize that it’s an unrealistic goal. You’re not a unicorn. No one is perfect. In fact, constant striving for perfection leads to stress and burnout. Instead of aiming for perfection, focus on doing your best and being proud of what you achieve. It will be enough.
- Set realistic standards. We perfectionists often set impossibly high standards for ourselves. That often means we set them for others too. In turn, this can lead to frustration and disappointment when those standards aren’t met. Instead of setting unattainable goals, set realistic standards that challenge you but are still achievable.
- Learn to let go. As you probably recognise, perfectionists often have a hard time letting go. Undeniably, ceding control and delegating tasks to others is a challenge. Nevertheless, as a leader it’s important to trust your team and delegate responsibilities. This not only helps you avoid burnout but also empowers your team members to grow and develop their skills.
So, we can see there are actually some pretty simple ways to find balance as leaders and avoid the pitfalls of perfectionism. By recognizing that perfection is actually unattainable, setting realistic standards, and learning to let go, you can achieve success while maintaining your well-being. No-one will think less of you if you let them know you’re not a unicorn after all.
Remember: your idea of OK is most other people’s idea of perfection. OK really is OK.
If this has struck a chord with you and you would like to know more about my work in this area, please get in touch and let’s have a chat about how I could help you and your team.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.
How well do you know yourself? We all like to think we know ourselves really well. We might also know a lot of our own strengths, foibles and development areas.
That might not actually be true. And that’s hard for some of us to face … others might actually know us better than we know ourselves.
Sometimes it might be our family – the ones we love (and who have to put up with the most from us!). Maybe it’s our friends – the ones we turn to for support and a good laugh. On other occasions, it might be our colleagues and co-workers. They probably actually see us for longer each day than our friends and family! That’s something to think about.
When you’re spending so much time with people, you’re bound to get on one another’s nerves from time to time. In fact, you may find that one of your co-workers “always” does something you’d rather they didn’t. What you may not know is that they may well think that you “always” do something irritating too. There are some uncomfortable truths that lurk beneath the surface in most workplaces. Those truths may just be perceptions. Perceptions can lay the foundation for misunderstandings. And if there’s misunderstandings, there may be miscommunication. Poor workplace communication is often at the root of low morale, poor motivation and ultimately poor productivity.
There is another way
To know yourself, and to know others around you, you could ask the people around you what they think of how you behave. They may well want the best for you and therefore be helpful with their feedback. They may also feel awkward about giving you feedback about things you do that you ought to either do better, do less, or indeed stop altogether!
Asking people what they think of you is a high-wire act, for you and them. It can put a toll on friendships in and out of work. It can also prey on your mind, if they give you things to think about but you don’t quite understand what they meant, or how it might affect them. And if it affects them in that way, does that mean EVERYONE around you thinks this? That could be really wonderful – or really awful, depending on the feedback.
There is a better way to know yourself.
How would it be if you could ask for objective feedback in a way that is anonymous, easy to do, and which explains the implications of the feedback to you. Sounds good, right? Well, that means you might like to consider taking a behavioural profile assessment.
There are a wide range out there on the market, but most of them focus on psychology-based descriptions of tendencies, preferences or “styles” as they are often known. Most are structured as some form of online questionnaire.
After the online questionnaire is completed, you should receive a report, generated by highly complex algorithms to match your answers against the preferences, tendencies or “styles” of the particular profiling tool you’re using. This report will give you feedback on how you are likely to behave in given situations. The report is likely to give you feedback on how others might see you, particularly if they have a different “style” from yours. What’s more, the report can give you priceless new insights into how you do what you do, and why others react to you as they do.
Following on from this, you might well think that, if everyone in your team had this profile, the level of mutual understanding and clarity of communication would skyrocket. And you might well be right. How might this be?
Well, for one thing, everyone having the same profiling assessment applied to them would give you all a common language with which to describe one another’s actions and behaviours. In addition, you would all have reports which offer an independent, objective lens through which to view yourselves. Finally, you would all have a way to understand the impact of your actions on one another.
The assessments I use
I use a range of profiling assessments. In other blogs I have explained why I use a needs analysis tool to improve team communication. However, sometimes, it is people’s personal style which is the stumbling block. That’s where I use:
These products are all different, highlighting different aspects of a person’s behaviours in work. Some focus on leadership specifically, some focus on key interactions. All of them are strengths-based, highlighting where people are strongest or more intense in their preferences, tendencies or “styles”.
Specifically, what questions would these products help you to answer? Well, they would help you understand or confirm your key strengths. That is always helpful, so you know how and when to deploy your resources to the best effect. No one has time to volunteer to do everything, including things they’re not great at doing, so maybe take this opportunity to focus your skillset on what you do best?
Next, these profiles could help you understand why you find some people easier to get along with in the workplace. Normally, there will be some who feel really on your “wavelength”. There will be some who make you wonder if you are speaking a foreign language when speaking to them, because they either don’t understand you or take offence at things that you simply don’t get.
There are lots of biases at play in the workplace (and in all human relationships); affinity bias is the source of the “he’s one of us” mentality that results in firms recruiting people in the image of the recruiter. This lack of diversity stifles innovation and, ultimately, productivity. So to avoid the inevitable biases at play in your workplace, using an objective assessment of people’s preferences and behaviours is a great way to introduce different points of view, whilst keeping a shared language in play all the while. It’s easy, cost-effective (particularly when compared with the cost of replacing disaffected leavers) and it really works. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t use profiling in my practice.
If you want to find out more …
Please get in touch. We can have a chat so you can explain precisely what your challenge is with your team (or maybe yourself). I can then offer you the profiling assessment which would best meet your needs in my professional opinion. You can access sample reports to get a feel for what you would be finding out. And you can be sure that nothing will be sold “at” you – everything my company provides to clients is necessary and appropriate.
I look forward to explaining all about these great leadership tools to you soon.
Image courtesy of Canva.