Somatic Balance for Project Managers - Change Leaders
A few years ago when I certified as a coach, I was introduced to the concept of somatic balance as the balance between four elements that make the body complete: body, mind, emotion and spirit. Later I found other similar definitions and some different ones.
Tracing the etymological origins of the word somatic we find that the word comes from two terms of the Greek language. The noun "Soma", which means "body" and the suffix "-tico" which is equivalent to "relative to". In other words, somatic is relative to the body.
Psychosomatic disorders on the other hand are those psychic processes that have influence and effects on the somatic. This means that certain somatic symptoms (with physical evidence) may have their origin in emotional processes.
In the current times with the increasing complexity of the projects, project managers, as well as the team members and even the sponsor face situations of stress and conflicts very frequently. Additionally, it is a fact that nobody achieves a significant change without winning some "enemies". Failure to adequately control these situations leads to reduced productivity, absenteeism, among other problems that affect the objectives of the project.
In this context, all professionals, but in particular those with greater responsibilities and challenges, require maintaining a balance between the four elements. A variation in one of them can affect any of the others, reducing the ability to cope with complicated situations.
Let's start with the body. We all need to take care of our health, which should at least include an annual medical check-up and exercise. Many times under the pressure of having many pending things we end up having a sedentary life, which eventually causes us to have less energy and it costs us more to fulfill our tasks. The truth is that I personally never considered myself an athlete, but someone who likes challenges. Some years ago I set myself the challenge of starting to run. At the beginning I could not run a couple of blocks. Now I can run 10 Kilometers and when everyone gets sick at home my immune system resists getting sick. Outside of enjoying better health, exercise is also a good way to control stress.
On the subject of emotions, positive emotions give us strength to continue, while negative emotions reduce our energy and ability. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify and control our emotions. Quoting Daniel Goleman intense negative emotions absorb all the attention of the individual, hindering any attempt to attend to something else. In fact, if you have had the experience of meeting a person who has been seriously ill and recovered, you will probably find that his state of mind had something to do with his chances of recovery. On the contrary, when the body is dominated by negative emotions, the natural defenses stop fighting. It's like an army that lowers its weapons when it sees its leader fall.
In the same way you have probably observed that solving problems in projects is much easier when you are surrounded by positive people and that it is not advisable to make important decisions when you are upset about something. Remember that, if emotions are not controlled properly, "emotion usually overcome reason"
As for the spirit, connect with nature and get away from the maelstrom of work, do meditation, yoga or if you are a religious person give yourself a time to pray, it also helps to keep the other elements in balance. Although this can be done a few minutes a day, vacations are also an important opportunity to find balance.
In summary, the four elements are related to each other and affect our ability to make decisions and fulfill our functions. In that sense neglecting any of the 4 can affect our potential as managers, change leaders or professionals in general and it would be even more important that we know how to identify when one of our employees faces problems due to health issues, knowledge or emotional state. Sometimes it is important that the manager recognizes when a collaborator needs a physical or mental rest.
In any organization, there are multiple levels of authority and in every project, the project manager must have some level of authority over team members and available resources. This authority provides a certain level of power. However, exercise authority and authoritarianism are ideas that are far from each other. The first is required to coordinate and use resources efficiently and must be earned. The second generates an adverse work environment that most likely affect the overall performance of the project.
The project manager that search to be a leader can use his authority to manage the project, identify corrective and preventive actions, assess performance and help to grow the team members. This authority may come from a formal designation accompanied by respect acquired based on their experience and lessons learned,
This brings the word "confidence" to my mind.
Authoritarianism on the other hand, is present in those managers who fail to make the team to work voluntarily, Instead they gain control imposing its authority, inspiring fear instead of trust, transforming work in a heavy environment. In other words, discouraging the project team and preventing these members use their creativity for the project. This can arise for various reasons. The fear that another person could highlight or the lack of confidence to delegate are just some of them, but the truth is that this attitude will eventually become self-destructive, because when working in teams is always possible to learn something from others (superiors and subordinates).
Regarding this subject, Albert Einstein said "The worst thing is to educate with methods based on fear, force or authority because it destroys sincerity, trust and only a false submission is achieved"
Under this scenario, it's possible that a project, carried this way, culminates, to some extent successfully, or resulting in failure, but in both cases the lack of confidence of the team members and the working environment generated will eventually generate that the project manager get stuck in their professional and personal growth. Also team members, once acquired knowledge, will seek other opportunities in other companies, and the organization loses the knowledge and experience of such people, besides investing in expenses for additional recruitment and training
A couple of years ago, I started a new blog, and actually this topic was my first post. This blog is intended to share experiences about the knowledge and skills required in order to manage projects and project teams.
Every set of activities developed with a common goal can be seen as a project, and in order to be succes, you need knowledge of techniques and tools, of those learned in educational institutions, but also, and more importantly you need interpersonal skills (leadership, teamwork, communication, conflict resolution, etc).
If we do a bit of memory, we will notice that in our lifetime we participated in several projects with different results, some good and some not so, (but you learn from all experiences). So if we analyze these results we can perhaps ask "what was good? ", "what could you have done differently?," "I felt good working on this project?" "Who led the team?" "What I learned from the way he managed the project?". All these questions are the basis for learning from ourselves.
Since school time, is possible to identify certain children with a tendency to direct the games. When they mature, these people have the opportunity to further develop these skills, however this leads to the question "Are leaders born or made?" From my point of view, some people have talent, but any skill can be improved with training
In my professional experience, I have had the opportunity to participate in projects for different industries (insurance companies, banks, port companies, software, etc.), but also in social responsibility projects and some projects in the education sector. No matter the sector, I found challenges and people with different personalities and interests. In most cases everybody have something to contribute, but there is always the challenge of making this group of people a real team.
So as conclusion of this first post, I want to say that it is important to participate in courses and workshops so-called hard skills (PMI, administration, specific knowledge of the business, accounting, finance, etc) but it is also important to devote some time to develop interpersonal skills at all levels of education, and in my personal opinion this must be also a commitment made by Schools and Universities to ensure comprehensive training.