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Listening – A New Approach

Sound waves

This week I heard something that both intrigues me and challenges me. A colleague shared something from a book she’s reading, in which the author suggests four “don’ts” when communicating with others. We’ll call it a listening approach, although it may be more accurately labeled a talking approach. Here it is:

  1. No fixing
  2. No saving
  3. No judging
  4. No setting each other straight

Can you even imagine this?

No fixing? Impossible! That’s what I do – I swoop in (uninvited) with my Wonder Woman powers and save the day. Isn’t that what all great leaders do? 

No saving? What?! I’m the kind of leader who wants her team to know that she’s got their back; how will they know how benevolent and wise I am?

No judging? That’s ludicrous! It’s human nature to judge, isn’t it?

No setting others straight?  Really? Never? How will I explain to someone that they’re wrong, and I’m right?

You know me well enough to know I’m taking a few jabs at myself, but in all seriousness, this is real stuff. As leaders, we (and I) minimize our effectiveness by not allowing others to learn from failure; we take over critical projects because we don’t want our team to feel stress from stretching themselves; we know everything there is to know about everything. Period. We’re generous when it comes to letting people know how they fall short; not so much with the “great job!” or “I admire how you did that.”

This is one of the challenges of corporate teams. On paper, the group is a team. But dig a little deeper and you’ll often find that individuals within the team are competing with each other as opposed to collaboratively working toward a common goal – a goal where everyone has a stake, a goal that everyone is inspired to achieve. When the team works collaboratively, there might be a little fixing, saving, judging, setting each other straight, but it’s not the norm. And that’s how good teams become high performing teams. You can learn more about this in our TeamFORWARD offering.

Keep Leading!

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