Someone lied to me the other day. It was a lie to cover up a lie. I knew it right away. I'm not sure that they knew it, though. Maybe not consciously. I think it's a habit for them.
Regardless of whether they knew or not that they lied to me, their habit of lying caused me to lose another measure of trust in them.
Trust, one of the foundations of leadership, is built by leaders' decisions, one decision at a time. Each decision builds on the other, solidifying how much someone feels you are trustworthy. However, how much someone trusts you can come crashing down, broken by one seemingly small decision.
Many of our decisions in leadership and life are unconscious, and this is where problems can begin. No, we can't think about every little choice and decision we make. However, as leaders, we need to be more consciously aware of how we make decisions, small and big. Furthermore, we need to be much more aware of the unconscious habits we make around certain types of decisions.
Your decisions paint a portrait of who you are. Each decision is a brush stroke of your character. Your character is who you are, not what you do. It's how people talk about you. Your character is your reputation or what they think about you.
For example, we may speak in awe of certain women's characteristics:
Then at times, we cringe at other character traits that some women exude:
So you see, your reputation or character matters!
Back to the person who lied to me. The thing is, I know this person will add other lies to the painting regularly. As such, I see them as a liar. Don't get me wrong. These are not always big lies. But, often, the lies I am talking about are:
But, it's not only lying. How about racist humour?
I know someone else who makes comments about certain races, genders, religions or personalities but always minimizes their supposed intended impact with a joke, a chuckle or a caveat that they are not biassed or prejudiced. Oh, but the picture they are painting, by choosing to say these things in the first place, tells a different story to my eyes.
These are more dramatic examples of how we shape our character. However, think now about the much more subtle decisions you make all day long and how they may affect how others view you as their leader.
These unconscious, small decisions often paint a picture of the type of leader you are. The point is to choose the image you're painting. To do that requires you to be more conscious of your decision-making, especially your micro-decisions. Micro-decisions are made all day long and are rarely seen as decisions because they are often more like habits. But make no doubt about it, you can choose differently.
Consider these examples of micro-decisions:
Micro decisions shape your character, paint a picture of who you are and tell others the type of leader you are.
Three steps to becoming more conscious of your microdecisions and making better ones!
1) Pick a short period each day for a week.
30 - 60 minutes is good enough. It could be a meeting, 1-1 conversation, or when you are working at your computer.
2) Remind yourself to do self-reflection for 1 minute after the time
3) Make a note of any micro-decisions you made during that period
On a piece of paper, in your notebook or on an electronic note, make one of your micro-decisions.
Each time you do this over the week, come up with at least 3 per period and look for new ones each time you do the minute of self-reflection.
Each time you do this, you'll become more and more conscious of the micro-decisions you are painting. Take some time to consider if these micro-decisions are painting the picture of the type of leader you want to be. If not, what will you need to do to become more conscious about these micro-decisions, and how will you change them?
Our decisions shape us and shape others' views of us.
Are your decisions matching what you want that view to be?
What to read next:
How to worry less about what you DO and plan more for who you are BEING
Nonprofit Leaders | 10 important questions you must ask before your next decision
Should you care more about what your nonprofit employees think about you?
Podcasts to listen to:
Episode # 16 - Discerning Before Deciding - Here's How
Episode # 32 - Three questions to help you make better decisions
Episode # 58 - Learn a decisive decision making hack and how to use it - For women leaders
Most women leaders in nonprofits have never received training on HOW to make decisions decisively, yet decisiveness is a crucial competency of leaders. To feel confident in making decisions, you need to know how to make decisions! If you want to learn the three-step process to make decisions quickly and efficiently with your integrity intact, click here.
When you cancel your regularly scheduled supervision with someone, do you tell them it's because you have another more important meeting, you are exhausted, or because you can't stomach the conversation you'll have with them?
Which one is closest to the truth?
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.