Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #33
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, Spring Frost and Bright Sun
Smart leaders today, we have found, engage with employees in a way that resembles an ordinary person-to-person conversation more than it does a series of commands from on high.
– Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind
How much information can our conscious mind hold in its working memory? About four “chunks,” and it can hold them only for thirty seconds or less.
– Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman
Today’s rapidly evolving, and frequently uncertain and complex environment requires us to shift how we lead. Whether it’s in our personal lives or in our professional roles, we benefit and thrive when we move from a command and control approach to one of co-creation through conversation.
Our challenge is in developing our Executive Control of Attention to stay present in the current moment and actively listen as we engage in conversations with other people.
During conversations, it takes energy to stay focused and thus it is not long before our Attention brain networks tire and we stop listening. As Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman describe, that can be less than thirty seconds.
Our Default Mode Network takes over and we retreat from the outside world into our own story or narrative. When this happens, I find I’m tuning people out, and often based on my own interpretations generating what I think should be done.
The problem occurs when my reverie is interrupted, usually by the other person pausing aware I’m no longer fully there. Alerted by the pause, I re-awaken to the present moment. As I orient myself, either I tell them what I was thinking or use a noncommittal response. I’ve just dis-engaged from effective conversation by not recognizing and acknowledging what they just shared.
Our opportunity is to focus our attention on active listening first before responding. I find the following questions helpful in developing my active listening:
- What information has just been shared?
- What feelings/emotions have been conveyed?
- What needs are being articulated?
- What intentions are being communicated?
- How do I acknowledge those first?
Developing Executive Control of Attention to actively listen takes practice. Fortunately, there are many conversational opportunities each day in which I can experiment and learn.
How do you develop your Executive Control of Attention to be present and actively listen?
What supports you in shifting to leadership through conversations?
I partner with executives and professionals to confidently lead in the face of uncertainty and complexity through co-creative conversations. Together we build trust, and cultivate leadership and organizational effectiveness to create a better future today. To learn more visit here.
Let’s create a better future today!