For the fourth year in a row now I have posted this blog as a kick off to a new year. Those who know me well know that I cannot live without my green tea; and dark chocolate, whilst attempting to reduce its influence on my life, still holds its own on my Five Essential Foods list. Having said this, I’ve been venturing into the ‘Skinny Cap’ coffee world last year, but Green Tea and Chocolate are still my go to! I’d love you to share this idea with your network…a great way to begin the year and get focused. Enjoy!
- random, or
- based on your past instructions or interests or random thoughts, OR
- in line with a more primitive decision-making set of instructions designed to ensure your survival.
- I started to come across (and pay attention to) more opportunities to raise or contribute to my business and professional profile.
- I was proactive in making decisions that supported that particular outcome over other potential outcomes.
- I was more likely to act on such opportunities than I would have been in the past.
- People get lazy and expect that the boss will do the heavy mental lifting, and this results in day-long interruptions to your focus and a drain on your mental energy.
- The boss (you) ends up doing everybody’s job for them, and that leaves insufficient time (and brain fuel) to do the heavy mental lifting for your own job (ie, ‘I don’t have time for the strategic thinking I should be doing!). You end up with everybody’s monkey on your back.
- And then when it all turns to pooh, whose fault is it – the boss (you again). ‘John told me to do that!’
- Any time someone asks you ‘Can I … ‘ or ‘Should I …’ you should respond with ‘what do you think?’
- Notice when the answers are coming too quickly from you. That could mean that others are relying on your expertise to much to solve their problems. Even as a leader you don’t need to be doing everybody’s thinking for them. Encourage others to think for themselves a bit more and build their own expertise.
- Ask more questions, and then shut up and let people think. The average elapsed time between when we ask a question, then answer it is 7 seconds.
It’s interesting that one of the most consistent comments I get at the end of my Rewired Conversations program is ‘I didn’t realise what a bad listener I was!’ Our perceptions of what constitutes a good listener have changed over time. Consider this gem from the 1980’s… Listening Skills… 1. Sit up 2. Look interested 3. Lean forward 4. Listen 5. Act interested 6. Nod your head to show that you are tuned in 7. Track the speaker with your eyes (Source unknown) These ideas are focused on what you do, and what you are seen to be doing – sadly with no mention of the purpose or process of actual listening. I would call this…listening without substance! Great listening, or listening WITH substance is focused on who you are in a conversation and how you are showing up. You can show up as a Consultant to the thinking of others, or you can show up as a Facilitator of great thinking for all. Let me explain the difference… When you show up as a Consultant, you show up with the purpose of being the expert in the conversation or meeting. You have content expertise, or a leadership responsibility that brings status and responsibility and feel compelled to bring that into the conversation, or you have experience or insight into the situation at hand that could be helpful. That’s fine, but the risk of showing up with a Consultant mindset is that you might listen for: • The problem you know how to solve (which may not be the problem they need to solve) • Opportunities to share your expertise or experience (when that may not help the situation) • The information that supports your thinking on the matter (to make you feel useful and valued) • Information that you want to know or that might be useful for you (to benefit your KPI’s or desired outcomes) The Consultant mindset is normal for us because it satisfies a number of our motivational needs. Our need for Status (a feeling of being valued and respected); and our need for Predictability and Control (when we are in control of the situation, we feel secure). The dopamine hit we get when we contribute or solve a problem for others is addictive, but not always useful. On the downside, our tendency to make assumptions and to want to jump straight into the satisfaction of solution mode mean that we miss discovering the real issues that need to be addressed. Mostly, we talk a lot and waste a lot of time. When you show up as a Facilitator, you show up with the purpose of skilfully enabling great thinking – both yours and others. My definition of a powerful conversation is one where… “Everybody leaves the conversation with different thinking than when they came!” This requires a different level of listening. As the Facilitator, your focus and expertise is on the quality of thinking you and others are engaging in. Your energy is focused on what is going on with others in the conversation, not just what is being said. You might listen for: • Emotion and energy (where does the truth and the real issues lie) • Patterns in language (is there an unseen pattern that needs to be highlighted for greater clarity) • Choice of words and focus (is there a repeated word, or theme, or a tendency for negative over positive that tells a story) • Ways to help the thinking (what curious questions need to be asked to help clarity) • What others need to be fully focused and present in the conversation (is the conversation going off on tangents) When you show up as a Consultant, it’s all about you and your needs. When you show up as a Facilitator of Thinking, it’s all about others and the greater outcome. The thing is, leaders have KPI’s, targets and desired outcomes to meet, and the reality is that in order to achieve those, they need to mobilise their teams and colleagues. And in order to make it work for you as a leader, you need it to work for them. And you need to listen in a different way if you are to have any chance of figuring out what ‘working for them’ looks like. Test yourself today on whether you are showing up as a Consultant, or a Facilitator of Thinking. Would love to hear your thoughts… If you would love to delve much deeper into the idea of listening, I can highly recommend the latest book from my friend and colleague, Oscar Trimboli – ‘Deep Listening’. You can access it on Amazon here… or from Oscar’s website.