Terryl is a senior leader for a rural utilities co-op. He has 19 direct reports made up of managers, journeyman linemen, mechanics and engineers. His operation is responsible for the maintenance and operations of 12,000 miles of overhead electrical powerlines and 2500 miles of underground lines.
Terryl started his career as a lineman and has worked his way up through the ranks to become the senior manager of his department. He will freely tell you that most of his training has been “on-the-job,” and he credits much of his achievement to “some great teachers and managers.” However, over time, Terryl came to recognize that he needed additional help with dealing with some interpersonal relationships, and leadership skills.
“My biggest or high moment, was literally learning about myself”
Terryl initially approached me because he was having some challenges with his supervisor. The first lesson he learned was that there are some things you can control, and others that you can’t. When you look for things you can control, changing someone else’s behaviour is seldom one of them. Therefore the first step is to look at yourself and understand yourself. As Terryl stated: “What I took away from that was if I can make my department run smoothly, everyone else would take note. So that was [to] quit being concerned with what may or may not have been going on in my supervisor’s mind, and just focus on working with my department and making it run smoothly.”
Terryl goes on to state that: “My biggest or high moment, was literally learning about myself. When I try to accomplish something, when I’m challenged to accomplish something, I become determined to prove that I can accomplish something, throwing out all relationships. That’s not me, I’m a relationship builder, but I become a very competitive… I learned [that I needed to] just slow down and listen…”
“I have learned to just calm down and listen, think about my answers before I speak”
Once Terryl got a handle on his own behaviour style, he took the additional step of having a 360 assessment completed on himself. How he was perceived by his peers, co-workers and direct reports was critical to the next step in his leadership growth. By focusing on two specific areas for improvement Terryl has been able to positively shift his behaviour and communications style, with some significant results. Terryl stated that: “…we celebrated as I discovered [an unsafe procedure on site] the way the device was being tied down… and as you put it there was no KABOOM! ….I have talked to employees here in the past when they would be excited about something that would raise my excitement. I have learned to just calm down and listen, think about my answers before I speak… It’s just calming down and listening to somebody, instead of having to tell my story… that was [my] most significant [change].”
Terryl’s shift in behaviour has also had a positive impact on his personal life. His wife has told him that he is more “upbeat, happy”, that he jokes with her more and is more animated. His staff has recognized that he is also more upbeat at work. Again, he attributes this change to recognizing that he has to slow down and listen, not only to others but to that little voice inside his head that is telling him when things are going sideways. Recognizing how his behaviour was impacting others and then making the shift is producing a much better environment not only at home but also in the workplace, and as he stated, he is seeing his direct reports start to use this approach with their teams. He is truly becoming a leader by developing other leaders.
*******Are you wondering if having a Leadership/Personal Development Coach is right for you? Contact John for a complimentary, exploratory coaching session at email@example.com********
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