Finding the Right Partner Is Like Finding the Right Job

Romantic relationships can be challenging. You must find the right person and blend your worlds. When it works, it’s incredibly rewarding. Over the next few months, we will explore the intricacies of relationships. To get started, I’d like to share my own story.

It was the 1990s, and I had been dumped by my fiancé. I moped around for months. My hairdresser, tired of my constant complaining, said that if I didn’t do something dramatic to get back on the dating scene, I would have to find a new stylist. That would be worse than finding a new gynecologist. I had to take action.

I placed an ad in the local paper. I got few responses, but at least my hair would be cut. However, my ad ran next to an intriguing 21-line ad. After getting up the nerve to call, I reached this voice recording: “The gentleman who placed this ad would prefer a written response explaining how you satisfy the criteria.”

What? You want an application? Am I applying for a job?

Actually, getting to know a potential romantic partner is much like the job hiring process. You and the employer want to know if your interests and strengths align with the job. And YOU want to know that your work environment will support your needs—that you will be understood.

It is the same in a significant relationship. Do you have enough common interests to enjoy spending time together? Will you get to use your strengths? More importantly, do your strengths align with your partner’s relationship needs? And will this relationship fulfill your own needs and minimize stress? Successful careers and relationships both involve an alignment of interests, strengths, and needs.

In my case, the gentleman who placed the lengthy ad appreciated my sarcastic reply and we ended up getting married. Do your interests, strengths, and needs align with those of your partner? That can determine the long-term success of the relationship.

Stay tuned for articles that explore finding fulfillment in your most significant relationship. 

How to Get Team Support for Your Organization’s Vision

Your organization’s vision is set. But without your team’s enthusiasm and commitment, your vision will not become a reality. As an organizational leader, how can you enlist others to implement your vision?

Understand your team members’ interests and strengths. If you focus people on activities they enjoy, they will want to work on the vision. If you encourage them to do work that uses their strengths—activities at which they naturally excel—they will be happy and more likely to succeed.

Pay attention to others’ motivational needs. These are harder to get at than interests and strengths. Discover not only what motivates others, but also what causes them stress. Even if an individual loves an activity, they will not succeed if they are focused on their stress.

Here are some real-life examples. First, there was an outspoken woman on my team who was very direct with others. I assumed that is what she wanted in return. However, when I spoke directly with her, she had an emotional blowup. She actually required more empathy than she gave others. Until we discussed that, she was unable to communicate her interests and was not using her strengths to her advantage.

There’s also an individual on my team who finds group meetings draining. So I minimize those for him. He has a strength in giving presentations, but as soon as that is done, we give him several days of solitude.

I am also a case in point. When people relay information to me, I desperately need them to tell it like it is. If I feel they are sugarcoating the message, I get emotional because it is the exact opposite of what I need. So, if you enlist my help, be straight up with what you want.

As a leader trying to get others to implement your organization’s mission, it is essential to be sensitive to your team’s needs. Quietly explore with team members what causes their stress so you learn what motivates them. In addition, when you share your own needs, others will see it’s valid to share their own.

Note: This article is the third (and final) article in a series on leadership. View the first article here and the second article here

To learn how to be happy, successful, and understood in your life, visit www.bookofyou.com

How to Create an Organization’s Vision

When you work in any type of organization, personalities, group dynamics, organizational culture, and other factors continuously come into play. So when you are in a position of leadership—influencing the thoughts or actions or others—how can you create an effective vision? There are four ways to achieve this:

Accept someone else’s vision. If you work for someone who has already developed the vision, this is an appropriate step. Your role can be to interpret the established vision and organize the implementation.

Declare the vision. This works when you know what you want to happen and how to measure success. You don’t need input from others, because you know exactly what success looks like.

Create the vision with a large group. In this scenario, the vision is decided democratically, with everyone’s opinions taken into account.

Create the vision with individual input. Here, you conduct a series of one-on-one meetings to gather ideas. Then you synthesize and integrate the input to arrive at the vision.

Your natural preference for one approach over another is dictated by your individual strengths. However, your personal preference does not take into account the needs of others. If you organize one-on-one meetings, for example, a team member who thrives on group interaction might become bored. Similarly, a team member who is not prone to speak up in a group situation (the very situation I described in my last blog) may feel unheard if the vision is created through a group meeting. And if you just declare the direction without input from others, you may find that no one is following you.

The trick in successfully creating a vision, then, is not only to understand how you would naturally approach the process, but also to understand the situation’s importance and the personalities in your group. For example, if you declare a vision on something your group has little interest in, declare it and move on. On the other hand, if many people have ideas and establishing a good vision is important, you could hold a combination of group and one-on-one meetings to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Note: This article is the second in a series of articles on leadership. View the first article here.

To learn how to be happy, successful, and understood in your life, visit www.bookofyou.com.

What is Your Leadership Style?

Photo image for JAN blog - what is your leadership style

“Leadership.” It is considered important in the business world, yet people are often hard-pressed to define it. While it might seem that leadership relates only to those leading a team, it actually applies to anyone wanting to influence the thoughts or actions of others. We have all been in a situation where we want to rally support around a vision. And that is what I call leadership: Creating a shared vision and organizing support to implement it.

How we go about it is where it gets interesting as each of us has a preferred style for creating the vision, rallying support behind it, and organizing resources to implement it.

The effectiveness of an individual’s chosen leadership style in a particular setting is based on personality, awareness of that personality, the needs of others in the group, and the importance of the topic at hand. For example, at the two ends of the spectrum are those whose leadership style in group interactions is:

Assertive. When interacting in a large group, some people are vocally dominant. It’s just their natural inclination. Unchecked by self-awareness, they might say, “Here’s the vision, so you do this, you do this, and you do this.” If others are looking for strong direction and/or don’t care much about the topic, this behavior just might work. However, when the topic is important to the group, or others in the group also have a strong leadership style, this could cause friction.

Non Assertive. This does not mean weak. Take someone like me. I do not seek out group attention, and I am not vocally dominant. Since speaking up in a group is outside my comfort zone, I wait until the topic is important to me. Then I come up with a point or two to get across. I might even convey my thoughts after the meeting instead, in writing. As writing is my strength, it might be a better way for me to persuade others.

Certainly, these behaviors are two extremes and address only interactions that occur in groups. Your own leadership style in group settings might fall somewhere in between. If it does, you might make a good mediator or group facilitator. No matter your nature or the situation, the trick is to be aware of your preferred leadership style in that situation—and how it is perceived by the group. Then you can modify your behavior in situations that matter.

Note: This article is the first in a series of articles on leadership.