Are You Listening?

7 08 2009

Listening is a vital discipline for any manager or leader. This is especially true for influence leaders.  In the beginning of a thing, whether it be a project, a social event or something else, leaders who weave active listening into their repetoire will always get a better result and come much closer in the end to what the customer, bride, manager is asking for.  And all involved with a team where the lead is a good listener will have a better disposition.  Team morale will  be higher because the influence leader knows how to consult and take the information and transform it into something tangible that will have meaniful and measureable impacts.  For instance, over my 13 years as a  lead/program manager there have been times when I’ve had to listen to team member issues “off the record” in confidence.  That meant that I  could not use the information in a way that would reveal who told me because I agreed to listen in confidence, I had to honor the request  to maintain or build further trust from that team member.  This is a very important concept because without trust you have nothing.   Revealing that team members name sometimes is tempting because it seems like the easiest way to get the job done, but it would a mistake. It violates the principle of active listening because I would only be choosing to hear what I want to hear and ignoring the fact that I was asked to keep it in confidence.  I’m not talking about anything illegal or immoral here, since of course that would be a different situation and would need to be handled differently.  I was able to take the information and influence managers to make adjustments that resulted in more efficient processes which saved time and money without ever naming anyone.  That is what influence leaders do, we actively listen, which builds a bridge of trust, which opens the lines of communication, which equips us to make positive and impactful change.


The Light Bulb Effect

7 04 2009

A stationary object cannot effect the changing world around it accept to get in the way of its progress.  I’d rather you move in one direction or the other or get ready to be easily pushed aside.  Change is inevitable, it has come,  it is coming and it will come.  There are a few things that do not change; the perfect and moral absolutes.   The only other thing that doesn’t change is the past because we live in the now.  Everything else must change, because everything else is imperfect, especially you and I.  Perfection is like a magnet, It draws us to it causing improvement in our lives.  You and I fall into 1 of 3 categories  when it comes to change.  Either we effect change, accept change or reject change.  How many people does it take to change a light bulb?  “Six: 1 to change it, 3 to say attaboy, and 2 to reminisce about how good the old light bulb was.

So, how do we effect change: we first change ourselves and then apply ourselves to our world. Ray Kroc went through many changes in his life.  He joined the American Red Cross, he was a jazz piano player, he was a husband, he dabbled in real estate, he was a  multi-mixer salesman and finally he became the Ray Kroc we all know as pioneer of fast food franchising who built the McDonald’s empire.  What empire lies within you?

So, how do we accept change: by accepting the fact that every good idea will not come from you, but others and that our way of doing things will conflict with some good ideas, then we can accept the change that comes.   When Twitter first appeared on the digital scene there were many of us with a wait and see attitude, people I called adopters, whether early or late.  We didn’t really get it…Why would anyone want to continuously post short 140 character messages about what you are doing throughout the day? 

“I’m sipping green tea and watching the game.”  “At the mall buying some jeans for the conference tomorrow.”  “Thinking about cutting my yard…” “I need a vacation” 

Then, one day my wife jumped on the bandwagon and I started to see that she was making meaningful connections for her business that helps mothers build successful careers without losing their families.  I begin to understand that it wasn’t just about shouting random messages to the world, but making short term and long lasting connections that make a difference.  So, hence my revelation,  Twitter is a change agent in the digital world and I’ve accepted it and jumped in with both feet.

Resistance to change can have lasting negative affects.
Took 200+ years 1553-1794 for the navy to accept the fact that lemon juice could cure scurvy which is a disease which killed tens of thousands of sailors.  The Navy wanted  to believe that a more  elaborate cure was necessary when all they needed to do was added a little lemon juice to the sailors daily intake.

Marriages fall apart year after year, because 1 or both people are unwilling to change themselves to adadpt to the other.
Are you effecting change, accepting change or are you in the way of change?

To effect change, we must change and those who do this are leaders (or change agents), To accept change we must be persuaded that change is good and those of us who are persuaded are the followers and workers and even have the potential to lead, To reject change that is good is foolish and those who do, cause pain and suffering and stand in the way of an oncoming train. 

So, let us constantly examine ourselves for areas of needed change so that we cause positive change, are accepting of good ideas that bring about positive change and so that we are not left standing in the dark reminiscing over how good the old light bulb was.