Dec 30, 2005
Vol. 2, No. 52

Published Weekly on Fridays
By Leadership University

From the Founder – Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach

Leadership: Pushing Your Own Buttons

A leader I’m working with asked me to explain what I meant by “pushing my own buttons” and I thought it would make a good piece for LeadU News as I write the final edition for 2005. It’s often hard to believe how fast the time goes each year.

First off, by using the question this leader asked me, I’m modeling how to push your own buttons as a leader. For one, I have a utilitarian worldview working with my theoretical worldview, so it makes sense to take something that I can do for one and do it for many—that’s leverage, and is one of my buttons I can push on my own.

What does pushing one’s buttons actually mean?

In order to keep this simple, but not too simple, metaphorically we have what are often contextual systems within us, both as memory and as programming. For instance, in my case, the most and least effective method for me in coping with conflict is being competitive. On one hand, it’s efficient in situations where competing is effective, such as when working in conflict with competitors who would otherwise overrun the system. On the other hand, it’s quite inefficient and ineffective when the situation calls for collaboration.

In other words, I have a lot of “systems” that are less organic and more inorganic when they are triggered. Argyris spoke about these types of systems as being a script that runs when it is triggered, an inorganic program.

Each of us has these scripts, these operating systems, these application programs that are basically configured to deal with the emmense reality of our existence in a productive, or at least in a manner to keep us fit enough to reproduce…after that who knows why this stuff is the way it is.

The key I’ve found is this: identify through self-knowledge what these programs are and how they are triggered.

Secondly, once we understand these “systems” of motivation, of development, function, instrumentation, reciprocation (re-visit one of my earlier “news” on ), etc. we can then consciously begin to “decide” to some extent when they are triggered.

Finally, I suggest one learn to trigger their own systems, which means we learn to push our own buttons.

In most cases, these scripts, or programs have formed for a reason and when those programs, or scripts or systems are triggered with “attention” rather than by reaction, we often get high levels of satisfaction and less problems because those system ultimately are connected to who we are.

Why not be who we are on “purpose?”

Therefore, learn to push your own buttons, so they are not pushed for you when it’s least likely advantageous to you and others. At some point, I will write more about this, of if you go to my blog and post comments, I’ll feel obligated (reciprocity<G>) to say more.

I will say this before I leave you for this year.

For some reason, people have somehow or another through what is probably our “puritan” ethics to believe that it’s not acceptable to push our own buttons, or to run our scripts on purpose. For some reason, I think people might believe this is selfish or for some reason inappropriate. So they continue to get their buttons pushed by others at inopportune times. To me this is silly, but then again that’s me, I’m not “traditional” in worldview, and therefore this button gets pushed with me if I put myself in rigid, or traditional settings.

Essentially, it’s self-knowledge first…then attention to intention that produces capability that allows us to remain in alignment with who we are. And finally, coaching helps.

In conclusion, I was visiting with a leader who was having his people coached. I asked him why he wasn’t being coached…trust me, as a leader, he didn’t have a good answer. While you’ll be hard-pressed to find people who want to be coached (which is the whole reason most coaches starve)…a leader without a coach is leaving themselves open to having their button pushed for them.

And with that, I’m cooked for 2005.

See you in 2006…and if you want a copy of my new book being offered in a private reserve sale, there are a few left before I go public in 2006.

Get your own autographed copy here:

Until then, Happy New Year


Mike R. Jay, Founder

P.S. Please visit Mike's public blog at to comment on this and
other articles about leadership.

P.P.S. Mike's 'private', member-only blog is available to those who wish to join, at their own risk:

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