What are your Leadership Rocks?

Yesterday I was invited to take a look at a peer’s reading list and it overwhelmed me.  I have read a lot of books, but we shared very few in common.  For a moment, the thought of relearning what I believe made me kind of tired.

Then I remembered what I believe, and the thought of starting there and seeing where the new material fit  and where it challenged my beliefs sounded exciting.  I look forward to the cup of coffee and conversation we will share in the near future.

So what is your leadership rock?  The foundation of what you believe that keeps you grounded?  For me, it is a definition given by Ken Blanchard that I memorized as an instructor for his Situational Leadership II class and carried with me into my leadership roles.  

Leadership is and influence process. When you work with people to accomplish their goals and the goals of the organization.

It is one of my rocks.  I so enjoy sharing it and asking the question “What words jump out for you?  Why?”

Rocks shift, but it takes a lot of effort to move them.  We should all be ready to shift and grow, but we need our rocks.  Leaders need a foundational set of beliefs to help them to stay steady.

What are the Leadership Rocks for you?

Here is what I think. . . TrustBUSTER™ #5 – Tells a lot, listens very little

TrustBUSTER™ #5 – Tells a lot, listens very little

A study was shared with me once that calculated the average time a doctor listened to a patient before making a diagnosis was 23 seconds.  For many of my visits that number has actually proven to be long enough.  But for a complex medical issue, Twenty-three seconds is not long enough.  In my experience working with the results of employee surveys, not enough listening is always a root cause of the top issues.

Here are some broad generalizations on listening. 

  • As people become experts at doing something, they become less adept at listening. 
  • When individuals are rewarded for being great at doing and made a leader, most feel the need to talk louder to make sure things happen.
  • A high salary has to be justified by knowing everything and never letting people see your mistakes.

I will let someone else to worry about the issue of twenty-three seconds for doctors, lets talk about how this applies for leaders. 

LEADERS:  The ability to hear what people need and understand what is going on in an organizations is probably the most important skill a leader will need as they move up the organization.  Recently a client shared with me that they were concerned about the statistic that 60% of people currently in jobs are open to moving to another job as the economy improves.  Their response?  Begin to provide the CEO time to meet with small groups of people so he can hear what they are thinking about.  Listening for leaders is about slowing down.  The cost? Free!

ORGANIZATIONS:  The top three ‘listening’ processes in an organization are performance evaluations, one on ones, and staff meetings.  Why do I say this?  Listening to individuals requires face time in a setting where they are comfortable and the agenda is about them.  Ken Blanchard offers guidelines for one on ones of meeting every other week for 15-30 minutes.  How many organizations do that?  As for performance evaluations, how many managers see this as listening time vs “I have to get through this and get their signature so I can turn it in and get credit for it” time?  Then there is the staff meeting.  Does the agenda promote open listening or lots of talking with no questions or debate?

Do we need to do employee surveys?  They do serve a purpose and there is always benefit in asking people’s opinion. The mistake is leaning on the surveys as the primary way that listening happens in an organization.  It is supposed to be supplemental data to ensure that good listening is happening.

How effectively do you use the ‘big three’ listening times mentioned above?  How would you grade yourself on this TrustBUSTER™?  How would others grade you?