In this month’s Kiwi Hacks we have the final article in our guest series by the Network’s own Jude Sclater, an expert in leadership and team development. Be sure to check out Jude’s first two articles in which Jude advises on how to get promoted at work and managing work/life balance. This month Jude explores the critical skill of managing yourself and others.
Jude Sclater's top tips on managing yourself and others
Unsurprisingly, if you're going to get that desired promotion and achieve a good work/life balance you also have to be good at managing yourself and others. The key to this is in understanding how the brain works, recognising that all brains are different and therefore knowing what works for you won't work in the same way for someone else.
Hands down, the best book I have read on how to manage yourself is The Chimp Paradox, by Dr Steve Peters.
In the book Peter’s simplifies the brain into three areas:
- The chimp brain – your emotional centre, acts on instinct and feeling.
- The human brain - the real you, logical and rational it acts based on truth.
- The computer brain - holds rules used by the chimp or the human
If there are situations where you are not acting the way that you want to, it’s your chimp brain that has taken over. Like when you snap at a team member, freeze in a presentation or avoid a difficult conversation.
Your chimp brain is not good or bad, it just is. It’s also your chimp brain that alerts you to danger and gives you that magical elation when you’re falling in love.
The trick to managing yourself is being able to manage your chimp.
And the best way to do that is to nurture her.
Imagine your chimp is like a five year-old. She gets nervous, excited, scared, tired, angry and she doesn’t always know how to manage these feelings. Often, she needs reassurance, encouragement, time out or to feel heard.
How would you nurture a child that felt that way?
How would you nurture your chimp?
Let me share an example.
I still get nervous every time I get up to speak in front of a group. When this happens, I remind my chimp:
- of all the preparation I’ve done
- it’s normal to be nervous because I care about the outcome
- I’ve done this before and it’s been fun
I actively engage my human brain to acknowledge what my chimp is feeling and to calm her down. I need her to be alert during the presentation to help me instinctively respond to my audience.
Your chimp brain, when nurtured and managed, can help you be a highly creative and intuitive professional, so take a moment to check in with her to understand when and how you can better manage her responses.
Of course, if you have a chimp then the people you manage also have a chimp. I find it helpful to remember that there are no problem people, just problem chimps or behaviours. And to manage those problem chimps the first thing you need to understand is that no two brains are wired in the exact same way. What causes you to behave in a certain way is completely different for someone else.
So my top tip when it comes to managing others is to never assume, no matter how perceptive you are, but to ask.
- What do you think is the most important priority right now?
- What is the most frustrating bit of this project?
- What are the best and worst bits of your job?
- What would you change if this was your team?
- What caused you to act that way?
By asking, you engage your team members’ human brain, the real them. And you get the information you need to help them influence their external environment so they can manage their chimp better.
Jude Sclater is a highly experienced leadership and team development specialist who spent 8 years working for Deloitte supporting Senior Managers, Directors & Partners. She is accredited through the European Mentoring and Coaching Counsel and holds a MSc in Organisational Behaviour from Birkbeck. Find out more at www.thinkwithjude.com or click here to sign up to her monthly newsletter featuring four ideas to inspire new thinking towards success.