Tag Archives: Listening

IKE

16 Jun

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It was validating to learn that one of Dwight Eisenhower’s key character traits was his perceived humility. Michael Korda, in his biography IKE: An American Hero points out:

It was part of Dwight Eisenhower’s genius that he never wanted to appear ‘to know more than the other fellow,’ or embarrass anyone if it could be avoided.

Sometimes I do talk too much about myself. In the restorative contract I have reflected a great deal about listening to others. A work on…

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OPEN UP

14 Sep

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I have had a week of meetings and I tell you what it can be rather draining even for an extrovert like me. I have observed and learnt a great deal. Human behaviour is interesting and sometimes I wish I had We all have the tendency, when we think we’re under attack, to circle the wagons and protect ourselves. You can literally read someone’s body language.  When this is happening — they fold their arms, furrow their brows — and you can almost see the steam coming out of their ears. But if you want to build a feedback loop in your business, you, especially as a leader, need to lead by example and open yourself up to hear what people are saying. If someone in another department is convinced you’re not listening to them, what makes you think they’ll listen to anything you have to say to them? Yes, opening yourself up makes you vulnerable. But that’s also why we preach the idea that “you aren’t your code,” which is another way of saying that we all need to be able to process constructive criticism without taking it personally. If you can do that, you can create the kind of open and honest culture that is capable of tackling the thorniest of issues together. And you’ll be amazed that listening changes perspectives.  to someone’s feedback, and take action on it, you’ll increase that person’s engagement level in his or her work.

Being a Principal: Some Reflections

18 May

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During the last few weeks I have been Acting Principal. As this time comes to an end I thought I should reflect on some key thing I have learned and been aware of. Before you write them off as not applicable to you, consider that these are common in any type of leadership position and in a great deal of literature.

Healthy relationships: A common mistake that leaders make is to hole up in their office and neglect the relationships that will help them to be successful. You have plenty of other things to do, but this is the most important. Make time in your schedule to make the connections that will be mutually beneficial.

Listening: You must go beyond hearing to developing the kind of listening that goes deeper. This kind of listening includes watching body language and observing emotions. If you don’t listen in this way you’ll miss plenty of opportunities to learn and connect to others.

Silence: Leaders who exhibit strategic silence know when to stay still. They understand the impact of words that can hurt, anger, or create fear. They know that when they say too much, others stop speaking and creativity and inclusion are a lost cause.

Appropriate pace: It’s a difficult thing to match the pace of others. I find some leaders are so driven that they outpace those who follow, leaving them in the dust, confused and dazed. Other leaders may be too slow to make decisions and take action, and we all know what happens if this becomes a repeated pattern. You must be authentic to who you are.

Patience: Many leaders are intolerant of others who might do things differently or at a pace the leader finds unacceptable. Action oriented leaders may have a tendency to jump to conclusions before things are thought through. The lack of patience can manifest itself as anger or decisions that aren’t fully thought through.

Calm: Remaining calm is a great asset that can be lacking in many leaders in our high pressure, high stress organizations. Leaders who are not calm may show anxiety and an inability to remain still. They might be excitable at the moments when an organization needs calm, spreading anxiety.

Inclusive: There are very few places where a lone wolf leader can be effective. Decisions are complex, and it takes a village of smart people to help make them. Leaders who aren’t inclusive may find that their organizations lack creativity. The people who are most talented may be taking their brilliance elsewhere.

Respect: A deep respect for all people in the organization is the hallmark of a great and enduring leader. Everyone is treated as someone who matters.

Professional: A leader who is professional is one who dresses appropriately, walks the talk, and is loyal to their organization. Despite how they might feel about certain guidelines, rules, or bureaucracies, they do what needs to be done.

Reflective: Leaders who spend their days reacting are heading for trouble. Most leaders get more responsibility by taking decisive action, but unless they take some time to reflect on past and future successes and failures they’ll eventually run into trouble. Setting aside thinking time is imperative for success. I suppose this blog reflects this.

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