As some of my friends and colleagues know, I'm a bit obsessed with an assessment tool I use in my consulting practice called the Hogan assessment. Shining light on our "shadow side," the Hogan instruments help people become aware of their derailers-- a strength gone awry. For example, a positive trait like diligence might show up as critical, rigid, or perfectionistic. Enthusiasm taken to the extreme can turn into volatility, moodiness, and irritability.
Research on leadership reveals that the most beloved leaders have their fair share of derailers. What sets them apart is that they're aware of their derailers and work hard to regulate them just like they would a bad habit.
It's hard not to see the connection to parenting. In fact, in Mom-in-Chief I write about Mom Modes or leadership strengths and how they can run amok or turn into derailers.
Although most people need more tools to make an accurate self-diagnosis of their derailers, understanding common derailers is a good first step. Try assessing which of the following three derailers best describe you. (There are a total of 11 Hogan derailers. To learn more, visit the Hogan website). Remember-- the goal is not to eliminate derailers. The goal is to recognize them and manage them.
1. Excitable: Do your kids see you as overly emotional and short on patience? People with an Excitable derailer can be perceived as intense, edgy, volatile, and sometimes explosive.
Possible cost: Have you noticed that your kids hide bad news from you? Fearing an emotional reaction, your child may avoid talking to you about a problem.
Try: Instead of reacting in the moment, ask yourself what impact an emotional reaction will have. Take a breather before confronting your child in the heat of the moment.
2. Diligence: Do you pride yourself on being conscientious and orderly? In excess, these characteristics can be perceived as picky, critical, micromanaging, and perfectionistic.
Potential cost: Kids might fear that they need to be "perfect" to gain your approval. Feeling too much pressure, they may eventually rebel or experience the myriad ill effects that come from stress.
Try: Recognize that "good enough" may be as valuable as "perfect." Practice being relaxed and positive even when behavior doesn't meet your own high standards.
3. Reserved: Do you prefer to spend time alone and crave your "personal space?" Do people describe you as independent and naturally introverted? In excess, people
Potential cost: Family members may find you uncommunicative and withdrawn, especially during stressful times. You may miss cues that your child needs your nurture and guidance.
Try: Make conscious efforts to discern your child's emotions and show empathy for their feelings. Balance your need to be alone with close interaction with family members.