Have you ever driven yourself or others crazy by continuing to revise a presentation until right before it’s time to go into the meeting?  Are you the person who plans every vacation down to the last detail?  If so, you probably already know that you are a perfectionist.

I see a lot of perfectionists in my coaching practice.  I am currently working with three female clients who struggle with perfectionism and the need for control.  As a former perfectionist, I can relate.  Those of us who learned early in life that we would be praised and rewarded for the things we do have a hard time believing that we have value for who we are.  We were most likely the teacher’s pet and mommy’s helper at home and we still try to take care of everyone else.  We may have been the first in our family to go to college and the youngest in the company to be promoted so we are afraid to fail.

Although perfectionists tend to do our jobs extremely well, we reach a point in our careers and personal lives where our need to control becomes a problem.  We aren’t effective leaders because we cannot delegate completely.  Our friends and family are tired of hearing that nothing ever quite measures up to our standards.  We say, aloud or to ourselves, “If I ruled the world, everything would run smoothly.”  It is exhausting.

If you are tired of being a perfectionist, consider the following suggestions:

• Enlist the help of a friend, colleague or coach who can help you measure your value in ways other than a list of accomplishments, such as healthy relationships or a willingness to try new things

• Ask your team and family members what you need to do differently in order to equip them for success

• Celebrate your willingness to let go of your need to control the outcome

If you aren’t a perfectionist, then I’ll bet you know at least one.  Interestingly, I don’t hear these issues come up as often for men, so it’s usually the result of how women are raised and how they are praised.  To  support a perfectionist who wants to reform, you can:

• Ask the person how they want to be acknowledged

• Ensure they have adequate staff to whom they can delegate

• Offer to share the responsibility for planning a vacation or project

It is possible to change perfectionism and controlling behavior but it isn’t easy.  It takes patience and someone to hold you accountable.

If you or a colleague is ready to take a step in that direction, contact me at: cheryl@csbryan.com

Do you work in a 24/7 environment?  Many of my clients tell me that they could avoid being constantly on call if their colleagues were more effective decision makers.  According to a Bain & Company survey of almost 800 companies worldwide, this is a common problem.  Most people rated their company as less than effective at making decisions.  Have you been frustrated by someone who micromanages and slows down the decision-making process?  Or by someone with analysis paralysis?

The authors of “The Decision-Driven Organization” in the Harvard Business Review recommend assessing critical decisions to determine whether they are:

  • Major decisions like a change in strategy or a capital investment that has significant stand-alone impact
  • Minor day-to-day decisions like customer discounts or  changes in product specifications that together can lead to success or failure of a pricing strategy

When you have determined which decisions are critical, decide where in the organization those decisions should be made. Some decisions are better made at the field level, others at the regional or corporate level.  Many decisions require input from multiple levels.

It is also important to recognize different decision-making styles.  Leaders with engineering or other technical backgrounds may prefer a lot of details and need to learn to make decisions without all the information.  The ready, fire, aim types need to slow down and consider their options more carefully. These coaching issues come up frequently in my practice and it takes time to change ingrained behaviors.

The Bain study found a strong correlation between decision making and financial performance.  It is worth taking the time to assess the decision-making effectiveness of your organization and to address necessary adjustments.

If you or a colleague could be a more effective decision-maker, contact me at cheryl@csbryan.com.

best boss

Most of us would describe our best boss with words like strategic, team-oriented, supportive.  We value leaders who want us to be successful.  That post-industrial revolution concept was developed in the 1970’s when Robert Greenleaf introduced the idea of servant leadership.  Several clients recently expressed an interest in the tenets of servant leaders, which are:

1. Listening:  A critical component of communication is listening for understanding and clarity. A servant leader listens to what is said and what is left unsaid.

2. Empathy: A servant leader tries to see things from another person’s viewpoint.

3. Healing:  Servant leaders ensure they are healthy emotionally, spiritually and physically and provide opportunities for others to be healthy.

4. Awareness: According to Greenleaf, “Awareness … is a disturber and an awakener.” A servant leader is attuned to both internal and external cues.

5. Persuasion: Unlike a traditional authoritarian, a servant leader relies on persuasion rather than coercion.

6. Conceptualization: Servant leaders are able to see the big picture.

7. Foresight:  Learning from the past and understanding the present enables the servant leader to anticipate probable outcomes.

8. Stewardship: Servant leaders are stewards of their organizations as part of a larger society.

9. Commitment to the growth of people: A servant leader takes responsibility for encouraging the personal and professional growth of the people in his or her organization.

10.Building community: Servant leaders reach beyond a hierarchical company structure to offer a sense of community to those who want to be a part of something greater than themselves.

Did you identify any attributes you would like to develop further?  If so, let’s talk.  You can read more: Practicing Servant Leadership: Succeeding Through Trust, Bravery and Forgiveness, Larry C. Spears and Michele Lawrence editors, 2004, Jossey-Bass.

Many people give up something during Lent  – chocolate, meat or a bad habit. I’ve tried giving up the word “but” because I realized that with family members I’m guilty of saying, “That’s one way to look at it, but…” The “but” is usually followed by what I think is the RIGHT way, meaning MY way.

What impact does it have on you when someone can’t resist putting in their two cents? Are you encouraged or discouraged? Do you feel valued or discounted? How excited are you about implementing this idea? Are you likely to offer an idea to this person in the future?

Disagreeing with someone is different than dismissing their idea. I invite you to count the number of times you hear “but” or “however” this week and notice how the discussion could have been different if the sentence ended before the “but.”

For more suggestions on giving up bad habits, see What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.

My day began with a cranky computer and missing emails that couldn’t be restored.  I wish I could tell you how well I handled this stressful situation, but the truth is that I could have done better.  Managing stress is one of my ongoing challenges – how about you?

The Mayo clinic suggests that we first assess how we typically react to stress and then find healthier ways to respond.  Do any of these unhealthy reactions sound familiar?

  • Pain – from clenching jaws or fists, upset stomach, shortness of breath, back pain, headaches or insomnia.
  • Eating – too much or too little.
  • Anger  – at the wrong people at the wrong time.
  • Crying – about things unrelated to the source of stress.
  • Depression – when the stress is too much to take.
  • Negativity – expecting the worst in every situation.
  • Smoking or Drinking – stress is one of the main reasons that smokers who quit start smoking again. Alcohol is also a common stress reliever.

Once we identify our unhealthy reactions to stress, we can choose one of Mayo’s recommended strategies to manage it more effectively:

  • Scale back on obligations or delegate work.
  • Prepare for meetings well in advance.
  • Reach out and make or renew connections with others
  • Enjoy a calming hobby.
  • Relax through physical activity, meditation or yoga.
  • Get enough sleep – seven to eight hours a night.
  • Get professional help if things don’t get better.

I invite you to choose one new approach to stress management and resolve to try it for 90 days.

At a recent professional association meeting, our ice-breaker activity was to share one moment in our day for which we were grateful.  It was a good reminder to pause and reflect.

Here are some suggestions for counting your blessings:

• Keep a gratitude journal – you can make daily entries or just a note when you recognize something for which you are grateful.  Looking back over previous notes can bring a sense of peace when you’re feeling stressed.

•Focus on the positive – it’s easy to dwell on mistakes or missed opportunities, but remembering the successes can change your attitude and renew your energy.

•Express your gratitude – saying thank you for things large and small is a powerfully positive way to influence people around you.

How can you leverage the benefits of gratitude?