(Extract from Winning leadership)

From the time we enter this world, we develop traits and habits that will be limiting factors in our management and leadership of people. We will always be running with a few cylinders misfiring unless we fully understand our behavior patterns and those around us. We inherit baggage from our ancestry, along with many great things. This baggage is added to by our parents, with too much smothering, too little attention, too much criticism, too little quality time—need I go on? I believe one important task in life is to lighten the load so that it is not crippling us when we decide to start “management summiting.”

It is important to understand that to be a leader today you do not have to have handled all of your personal baggage; the key is the awareness of your weaknesses. There are plenty of “crippled” CEOs causing havoc in every organization that they work for. Yet there are those iconic CEOs who are a pleasure to work with. My point is that you owe it to your colleagues, your staff, your suppliers, contractors, family, partner and offspring to do something about your own personal baggage.

We have a choice: to grow and challenge those behavior traits that will create havoc in the workplace, or to ignore them and seek new jobs like we do new partners, hooked on the romance period and leaving when the going gets tough. To make a major contribution, you will need to achieve through the contribution of others. This means acquiring a new set of behavioral skills more suited to working with and leading others.

Here are six courses that every leader and adult needs to do as a basic minimum.

Course 1: The Enneagram

“The enneagram is a profound, elegant, and compassionate approach to people and their relationships. It describes nine basic world-views and nine different ways of doing business in the world. Each of the nine personality types is something of a pathway through life, with likely obstacles and pitfalls along the way.”

Your principle motivation should be a better understanding of how you work and what will benefit your family, friends, and colleagues. A by-product will be that you will have an understanding of the likely worldview/personality type of your boss, and thus be in a better position to make the relationship work. (See http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ ennagram.asp.)

Course 2: Hermann’s Thinking Preferences

This entertaining workshop looks at the way people think. It is broken into four types. It is important to understand the thinking preference of your boss, colleagues, and staff reporting to you so you can communicate effectively with them. Attend a local course as soon as you can or visit www.hbdi.com/

Course 3: Myers-Briggs Profiling

This helps you understand how you perceive the world and make decisions. It is particularly useful to use it as a team exercise so members can better understand each other. Even though there are only 16 different profiles you will be surprised how accurate the profiling is for you. Visit www.myersbriggs.org and read Quick Guide to the 16 Personality Types in Organizations: Understanding Personality Differences in the Workplace.

Course 4: Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Many readers will be aware of this term, even attended a course on it, and yet this concept is often left in the deep recesses of the brain, unused. At its basic level it is the most effective form of behavior alignment one can do. By using your five senses you create visions of achievement you have yet to attain. You smell, you see, you feel, you hear, you touch, all in your mind, the event you want to achieve. Your subconscious is now in a dilemma. It needs to close the gap between now and this future reality.

Because it knows no bounds, it will lift your performance, the only limiting factor being your consciousness, which as always will interfere and will sabotage progress, if allowed to.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming will have a profound impact on your leadership, your golf scores and your relationship at home. Go on the Web and search “NLP+course +New York”(your location) to find a local course.

Course 5: Transactional Analysis

Transactional analysis says that each of us is made up of three egos parent, adult, child. When we communicate, as a manager to our staff, we need to understand that it will be more productive if we communicate as an “adult” rather than reverting to our parent or child egos. In addition we need to be aware when having a discussion with a staff member what ego they are using. If a staff member is emotional they are using their child ego thus it is not productive to use one’s adult ego (structured reasoning) as the staff member needs your nurturing side (parent ego) for the communication to work effectively.

I hope I have said enough to encourage you to explore more in this area. For a practical explanation see www.businessballs.com/transact.htm

Attending a Transactional Analysis course will helps you understand communication styles and why sometimes our communication does not work. It is particularly useful in improving relationship communication with our direct reports, our partner and our family members.

Course 6: Intensive Life Skills Course

Life skills courses have various titles. I have attended courses called “Turning Point,” “Point of Choice,” and “Essentially Men”; there are many others, such as “Money and You.” Some of your friends and relatives will have attended a course. Go to one that is highly recommended and that has made a difference to that person. The personal development courses of longer duration have the most chance of changing your behaviors. The experts in behavioral change say that it takes up to 12 to 16 weeks of weekly exercises to change behavior. These courses help you to develop a decent toolkit to handle disappointment, anger and loss. If you do not learn to handle these events, there will be plenty of opportunities for them to screw up your life.

I went to one life skills course, as a skeptical accountant would, expecting to be mildly challenged. It turned out to be a vastly more challenging and rewarding experience. I soon realized the extent of my baggage. Part of the major load was that I had never grieved properly for the loss of my dear sister-in-law, who died of cancer before she reached 30. With the flowing of my tears I have found life more rewarding, as I now am able to express sadness and loss as any normal person would do.

Ernest Shackleton developed his character and qualities immensely, from being the favourite brother of doting sisters to becoming the Antarctic explorer that men would follow regardless of risk and reward. Edmund Hillary changed remarkably from the shy and reclusive beekeeper to the media-savvy Nepalese school builder. Hillary changed from a person who hardly spoke in class to a person who, post the conquest of Everest, was giving lecture tours around the world.

Churchill had a difficult childhood. His father, through illness, destroyed his own brilliant political career. He had a torrid time at Eton where failure was the norm as he refused to learn the “Eton way. Yet Churchill emerged as a person whom people would follow to their last step and breath. Churchill constantly had an internal fight to keep his abrasive personality traits in check.

As Jack Welch says emotional maturity should be a given for a leader, it is a ticket to the game. Make sure you have invested time in this important area.


Date of course

The Enneagram
Hermann’s Thinking Preferences
Myers-Briggs Profile
Neuro-Linguistic Programming
Transactional Analysis
Intensive Life Skills