Key Point: Are you an inspirational or demotivating boss, to yourself? If we lead ourselves then we can assume we are responsible for our personal level of engagement. There is a ton of evidence suggesting that the most effective leaders show personal care for their employees. They thoughtfully coach and build on their strengths, cultivate strong working relationships, and instill a sense of purpose and hope. There is an abundance of research that shows employees quit their bosses, not their jobs. Most ineffective leaders overload employees with responsibilities, then micromanage, do not connect at a personal level, communicate poorly, and fail to inspire a sense of purpose.
So, if you (as your own boss) treat yourself with appropriate care and support, will you be positive and engaged? And conversely, if you (as your own boss) treat yourself with disdain and negativity, will you be totally disengaged? Will you essentially quit on yourself?
Leading Yourself Begins With Self-Talk
I really like the argument on this matter put forth by psychologist, Brett Steenbarger, in a recent “Self-Leadership and Respect” Forbes post.
“Think of the stream of conscious thought as a conversation: It is our way of talking to ourselves. Self-talk shapes our relationship to ourselves; it is also our way of managing ourselves. This perspective leads to an interesting question: Would you want your boss to talk to you the way you speak to yourself?
All too often, our self-talk is filled with frustration (‘How can I possibly get this done?’); disgust (‘I can’t wait to get through this!’); pessimism (‘Nothing works out!’); and apathy (‘Whatever!’). Think of the self-talk of the perfectionist: Nothing is ever good enough and any falling short of (lofty) goals is failure. Some of the most damaging self-talk I’ve heard is from perfectionists: ‘I’m such an idiot!’ and ‘I can’t do anything right!’.
Of course, none of us would want to hear such things from a supervisor. Exposed to that verbal abuse and negativity daily, we would quickly disengage from the workplace and start to look for new employment. But what if we are our own bosses and that is how we talk to ourselves? The result is not so different: We disengage… When we talk to ourselves in ways that leave us disengaged, the loss of energy and optimism is palpable. Conversely, when we challenge ourselves constructively and immerse ourselves in meaningful activity, we become spiritually and emotionally charged.”
Psychologists refer to positive self-engagement as moral elevation while negative self talk leads to moral deflation. And our propensity to treat and talk to ourselves in certain ways may manifest in our daily experience:
* Emotionally – As optimism versus. Pessimism.
* Socially – As attachment versus. Detachment.
* Physically – As vitality versus. Fatigue.
As Steenbarger notes, “Across the board, positive self-management is energizing; self-management grounded in negative self-talk robs us of energy. In many ways, the state of our bodies reflects our mind state.”
- Do you like what your self-boss is saying about you? Are you an engaging, inspirational self-boss or are you disengaged and looking for new “employment?”
- The challenge with being a very negative self-boss is that when you quit and become disengaged, your self-boss is still there… Yup, that’s you!
- As always, engagement comes from leadership. In this case, how are you leading yourself? Take the simple test: Are you optimistic? Attached? Vital? If not, your self-boss can get better with intentional help and practice.
- If you need to help your self-boss, don’t be afraid to get him/her a coach (in some cases a therapist) so they might learn. You and your self-boss are both (hopefully without sounding schizophrenic) worth it.
Your self-boss in The Triangle,
One Millennial View: Millennials might be some of the best self-bosses out there. I’ve seen self-bosses my age switch careers, follow opportunities, relocate, start businesses, and even say, “screw this, I’m traveling to Fiji and I don’t have a return flight yet.” It seems we’re our worst self-bosses when we’re stuck, hesitant, or without ANY plan. I like to remind myself that these are my “no wife, no dog, no mortgage” years… My self-boss is never going to be able to have as much corporate freedom as he does right now, might as well make the best of it, and be positive. But my “company” (me) has to be in a good enough place to offer those benefits.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis