December 14, 2017

Archives for November 2012

How much of what you learn makes you feel different?

Man thinkingSome of what we learn causes us to feel different physically. It’s profound enough that something changes for us psychosomatically—our different thoughts influence our body enough that we notice the difference. We get a feedback that something has changed for the better.

The only way to “see” this is to experience it. Important then to give people that opportunity: Show them through their own actions rather than tell them. Otherwise they’ll think it’s just more head stuff—bit of a waste of learning time, don’t you think?

As Milton Erickson said, “In order to learn to swim, you have to get in the water.”

And for you…

Where are you standing at the poolside? Where could you do with getting in the water?

Are you a theme player?

Group in discussionSome participants make sure their contributions to the meeting add something to the main thread of the dialogue. You can tell they are mindful of the main direction of the subject at hand, and see it as bigger than any of them individually. They know how to nurture the theme. (You can often tell who they are: They are the ones who usually listen more than they speak.)

On the other hand…

Others want to push their point; to press for a particular approach, even if it distracts and saps energy from the shared process. They seem unaware there is a flow of shared meaning that deserves respect—something separate from any of the individuals present. It’s as if they see only an exchange of statements and questions between people, rather than the development of something additive and greater than the sum of the parts. Because they don’t see anything separate, they can’t begin to nurture the developing picture.

Sure, some gatherings may suit a robust approach, but when it comes to developing something together…

Do you respect the common thread?

In fact…

Are you a theme player?

On-topic or off-topic?

Informal meetingThey have something to say so they say it, whether it takes the theme forward or not. Sometimes what they say is a distraction sapping energy from the main flow of the dialogue. Eventually progress slows as momentum is lost and participants get tired.

A key role of the leader then is to ensure contributions from the group add to the issue at hand, whilst at the same time being open to truly relevant alternative perspectives, which just might be revelations.

How do you keep a balance? How do you coach people to be mindful of whether they are on-topic or off-topic? How do you keep your contributions relevant yourself?

Too comfortable?

Executives listening to a presentationTo what extent should leaders expect to feel uncomfortable—a little of the time, a lot of the time, or somewhere in the middle?

Sometimes people in leadership positions comment that such and such made them uncomfortable. Something they experienced didn’t fit with their unconsciously held map of the world. They know this because they had an emotional reaction to what happened—their “stomach turned” so to speak, even if only a little.

But here’s the thing…

As leaders, should we welcome such experiences as broadening our map of the world? Do they show us we might have missed something or have something new to learn?

If we’re venturing into the unknown—and surely as leaders, that’s our job at least some of the time—then a bit of discomfort is to be expected, even welcomed as a sign we’re making progress. Going first is often uncomfortable.

Comfort might be a sign of danger rather than a sign of safety.

How uncomfortable is comfortable for you (or, how comfortable is uncomfortable)?

Social media—a normative influence?

Woman with BlackberryWe hear commentary that social media has a detrimental effect on ability to relate to other people—not too sure about that myself.

Leaving that debate to one side, here’s another aspect…

The very pervasiveness of social media, especially networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter where things get shared or retweeted a lot, perhaps means that we take more trouble to keep in with people, and act in accordance with the norms, simply because we know we’ll see them again soon, wherever they may physically be.

Just like living in a big village (not that villages are always harmonious of course), we really can’t avoid people in our circle. They’re everywhere.

Best to act accordingly, I reckon.

What do you think?

Universal truth or just your worldview?

Woman reflectingIt comes as a bit of a jolt: What you thought was something which was true everywhere—that always applied—turns out to be just part of your map, a piece of your programming, in fact.

It’s a healthy shock, of course, and one I’ve got more used to—enough to be more alert to the possibility that what I thought was a foundation principle is in fact an area of shifting sand.

Here’s what I’ve found though…

The more fundamental the principle, the more likely it is it really does apply everywhere, and the more sure you can be that it will.

A good reason for working at a deeper level—more chance of being right.

Mastery in the young, or at least younger

Four young adults working togetherHelping some clients visualize the next 12 months of their business (and so increase the likelihood of it happening), it’s interesting to notice that these young business people haven’t learned to be resistant to learning.

Not having ever had experience of other businesses, or even worked for anyone else, they haven’t picked up the habit of pushing away that which can help them.

Sometimes mastery can be seen more clearly in the young than the old.

Incoherence and bullying

Signposts pointing in all different directionsStrategic coherence: Some organizations have it, others not so much. In those that do, it’s easier to get things done across functions, across the ubiquitous silos, because everyone’s already pointing in something like the same direction.

Where there’s incoherence—different parts being pointed in different directions—it’s much harder to lead across functions when the job requires it. Managers run out of the skills and authority they need to get what they need done, done, and resort to bullying behavior.

Some organizations leave their senior people to “sort it out amongst themselves.” In a competitive culture, that rarely happens and so things get incoherent down the line.

Does that lead to bullying?

What do you think?

Watch the incoherence is the takeaway, I reckon.

If your organization was an orchestra, how would it sound?

Conductor and orchestraIs everyone playing the same piece? Are they even in the same hall? Assuming, yes, then how unified is the performance?

Ok, the comparison is not entirely valid, because an organization needs to evolve, so some players need to be trying out new things, and new additions to the team need to be practising and tuning up in another room.

But still, as its conductor, are you satisfied with what you hear?

If you yourself were an orchestra, how would you sound?

A simple story of ego

Leisure centreThe lady behind the reception desk said “I’m sorry, but the pool closes at six o’clock on a Monday”

She must have made a mistake…

“Are you sure? The website says it’s open.”

She confirms the pool is definitely closed.

I’m for blaming something, so I say…

“I think the website must be wrong.”

The receptionist astutely says she doesn’t know anything about the website, avoiding meeting me on that field. I recognise reality (but not responsibility) and leave.

Of course, I’ve just got it wrong. The website is perfectly correct.

Such are the consequences of ego—in this case, mine. A little example highlighting a problem we all face—learning blocked by ego—our own and other people’s.

Where’s yours letting you down? And what changes when you reign it in a little?