Is 2012 the Year for High Achievers to Embrace Their Humanity?

Is 2012 the Year for High Achievers to Embrace Their Humanity?

In my first two blogs on high achievers, Why High Achievers Flounder and Comfort Zones of High Achievers I talked about how SMARTER workplaces create a culture and emotional climate that inspires high achievers to continually grow as professionals. The last two blogs Six Step Plan for High Achievers, and Four More SMARTER tips for High Achievers, I discussed the need for high achievers to embrace humility and patience: to be willing to exhibit vulnerability and humanity.

Humanity is the gateway to a “reciprocal achievement” culture. When you Google ‘humanity’, several definitions emerge. The definition below is one I embrace:

The psychological characteristics that all normal humans have in common: It is the concept that there is a set of inherent distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting. This includes the emotional and social characteristics of compassion, altruism, or similar positive aspects of human nature along with aggression, fear, or similar negative aspects.

To sustain high achievement, you need to be continually learning and growing, in spite of uncertainty and anxiety. You need to ask for, and receive, feedback. As a leadership coach, I utilize Marshall Goldsmith’s method of feed forward. Instead of rehashing a past that cannot be changed (feedback), Marshall Goldsmith and Jon Katzenbach coined “feedforward” to encourage spending time creating a future. The act of “feed forward” by high achievers is a display of their humanity. Leading with humanity is finding and doing the right things, in the right way, with the right time frame. It requires leaders to develop the capacity for executive wisdom and the ability to deploy it. It requires that they both see and pursue the development the essence of humanity – virtue in their own characters.

Leaders routinely face situations for which they have no rules to guide them and all too often for which they have little or no knowledge. In these circumstances, they are always anxious and face incredible pressures to behave badly because they more often do not know what they do not know. Almost nothing is more difficult, anxiety arousing, and humiliating than for a leader to admit that he or she does not know the right thing to do.

~ Richard R. Kilburg, Executive Wisdom: Coaching and the Emergence of Virtuous Leaders, APA, 2006

Leading with humanity takes wisdom, virtue and practice, a determined spirit and the courage to ask for help. My next blog will focus on empathy in the workplace as it fits well with the emphasis on humanity at work.

So, how can you display more of your humanity in your workplace? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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