Monday, June 8, 2009

Don't Use a Hammer to Swat a Fly Off Someone's Head!

If you have kids, you understand the meaning of the title to this blog entry. If you work with people who act like kids, you are probably smiling right now. Let me clue you in on a secret: we all work with people that act like children sometimes. And if we are honest, we can act like a child sometimes too. Sometimes we are all selfish and lack some self-control. Why is this awareness important to a change leader?

Reflect on these questions and think about how these behaviors can undermine your effectiveness as a change leader:
1. Do you have solutions in mind before you completely understand the problem that needs to be solved?
2. Do you interrupt others to give them your solutions before they are done articulating the problem? Do you ever just wish someone would stop talking so you can have your turn?
3. Do you find yourself doing the right things but at the wrong times?
4. Do you ever have what you say overpowered by your tone and body language?
5. Do you let little things produce big reactions driven by emotion?

All of these behaviors have the same root cause: our selfishness. So how do you overcome these tendencies in yourself? How do you coach others who display these behaviors? Some of the best advice I've ever read on this topic is from John Maxwell. He suggests the following approach:

Listen. Ask questions. Listen again. Ask more questions. Listen some more. Then respond.

Asking good questions takes conscious effort and discipline. Believing you don't have all the answers takes patience and humility. But the result can be dramatic and sustained change in the lives of others...and yourself!


jsteward said...

I have found that my verbal energy toward a particular subject is miss construed by some as being over the top, and can stop a productive brainstorming session. By using Maxwell's suggestion the questions you ask make a personal connection with your audience and allow you to gage their demeanor and tone.

The Change Freak said...

I've had the same issue. In my excitement and passion to drive improvement I can be a steamroller. I've also learned that sustainment becomes a real issue when that happens. The bottom line is people own what they create, and listening carefully and responding only when you have a complete understanding of the issue is key. Often you can lead individuals to solutions just through asking the right questions. Great comment Jon!