Thought of the Week: "Psst... leaders are you listening?"

February 20th, 2014

Thought of the Week: "Psst... leaders are you listening?"

'Yeah, yeah... I've heard it a thousand times, I know listening is important and I don't need to be told again'

The problem with having heard something time and time again is that we tend to develop mechanisms which filter out what in our minds, is either 'noise' or something already known.

Anything that leads to a great outcome is either the result of chance or effort. Chance is something that we can't do that much about so we are left with simple concept of working at it (although as a great golfer once said "the more I practice the luckier I get").

I read an article recently by David Hassell which talked about three key aspects of what blocks a leaders capacity to 'hear' what is really going on in their team or organisation. Great leaders are able to distinguish between 'signal' and 'noise'. Signal obviously being what is important and what is telling you something significant about what is going on, noise is what gets in the way.

At an individual level it is about developing your metacognition - developing an awareness of what you are thinking. This can only happen with practice and not getting swept along by your own narrower focus.

We all tend to think we are better at listening than we really are and these (from the article) are what get in the way.

- We're developing a response. Instead of maintaining a clear, open mind when others speak, we quickly start composing our reply or rebuttal. Many smart people tend to jump into that response mode - usually less than 40 words into a dialogue

- We're preoccupied by external factors. In today's multitasking environments, distractions abound. We're bombarded with noise from things like open floor plans, and a constant barrage of texts, tabs, emails, calls, and calendar notifications

- It's not a good time for the conversation. Have you ever been rushing to prepare for a meeting when someone stopped you in the hallway with a simple "Got a moment?" 'While it may be tempting to comply, it's wise to simply schedule the discussion for another time. You'll stay on track for the meeting, and can focus on the request as time permits

You can read the full article here.

Simon Wiltshire

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