Paying Attention To Identity In Leadership - How To Use It To Achieve Better Results

Paying Attention To Identity In Leadership - How To Use It To Achieve Better Results

Who are you?

It seems like a simple question, but it is loaded with a lot more information than most people realize.

Information that Leaders Must Understand to Succeed.

Now, interestingly, most people Do Not Actually Know Who They Are when you ask this question.

They will, of course, give you an answer, but the answer is not "Truly" who they are.


How 95%+ of people Answer the Question "Does" Reveal a lot.

What does this Question Reveal?

Rather than communicating "Who" people are, the answer to this question more often reveals "What" people Value.

For instance, let's take this answer.

"I'm a Proud Parent of Four!"

Now, though it may be "True" that they are a Parent of Four, and they are Proud, this is not "Who" they are.


Because everything in that statement can change in a flash.

Let's say that All Four Children suddenly start getting into fights daily at school and are constantly in trouble.

Now this individual is more likely to be a Disappointed Parent of Four Troublemakers.

Who we "Truly" are is Lasting, and Does Not Change Dramatically over time.

But, we can derive some interesting information from this statement still.

When they say they are "Proud" based on things outside themselves (in this case their Children), we know that they are someone whose sense of Pride may be coming from outside themselves.

Someone like this may be more Motivated by Goal Attainment that can be seen Outside themselves.

Perhaps they are Motivated by their Team Succeeding as Opposed to Focusing on themselves or their efforts individually.

Then what about "Parent"?

We know that this individual has made their Family one of their Top Priorities.

So much so that they felt that "You" needed to know it from one of the very first interactions!

What else does this tell you?

What is going on with the Family "will" Impact their Work.

If the Kids Suddenly do become Troublemakers (Maybe because they are Teenagers trying to discover themselves), then this "will" Impact their Work.

If you see a drop in their Performance, you may end up finding that something is happening with their Family.

The Dis-Stress from what is happening with the Family then Impacts how much Dis-Stress they can Handle at Work.

As I always say, All Stress Adds, it doesn't matter where it comes from.

Then, if you had to Confront them about Performance, you Know that their Priority is their Family.

If you say something that makes them Believe their Family may be at Risk, such as "If you don't get your act together, you'll lose your job", then they will Immediately be Against You.

By Threatening their Family's Livelihood, you've become their Enemy.

Not a great position to be in as a Leader.

However, if you say something like, "Hey, my Goal is to put you in the best position so that you can take care of your Family, and to be in that position you gotta do XYZ", then the conversation becomes completely different.

You as a Leader are getting in Alignment with what is Most Important for this Individual, which will make them more likely to work with you toward the Goals.

It is a small Change, but one which can make Gigantic Differences.

Or what about someone who says, "I'm a hard worker."

Here, we are seeing someone who puts a lot of Focus on their Work.

They will be more motivated by how "They" Perform than perhaps how the Team Performs.

If you say something like, "The Team needs to get this Result", they probably won't care that much.

In fact, they may be thinking that they are already carrying the team on their hardworking shoulders, and therefore the "rest" of the team needs to get their acts together!

However, if you say, "Hey, this is what I need you to Accomplish", then they will be ready to go because it is directed at "Their" Work.

You could even say something like, "For the Team to win, we Need You to Achieve this Goal".

In that, you are making them a "Hero" of the Team, and that will play perfectly into what they care about.

Understanding how they see themselves as "Hard Workers" can also tell you how to approach them when things are not going well.

If they believe they are Hard Workers, they generally Believe that they put their Best Effort into their Work.

Even if we do this though, there are times when this isn't what is needed for Success.

If you as a Leader say, "This wasn't good enough, try again", this becomes a personal attack on this individual and they will Resent You.

However, if you say something like, "Hey, I know you're working really hard and I see the Effort you're putting in. We need to adjust our Strategy here to make sure that you can get the best Results", you'll get a different reaction.

By putting it like this, you are not Diminishing their Efforts, but rather Redirecting their Hard Work in a way that will get them better Results.

This gets them excited because they think, "Oh, I can get "Better" Results with the same Work Ethic I already have? Great!"

When we really listen to Who people Believe they are and Understand what they Identify with, we begin to see how we can better work with them.

This is a Necessity for Leadership Success.

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