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How Mindful Leaders Overcome Blind Spots

Leadership Blind Spots

No matter how hard we try to be self-aware, everyone—including the best leaders—has unproductive behaviors that are invisible to us but glaring to everyone else.

A blind spot is a performance-hindering mindset or behavior of which you’re unaware or have chosen to overlook. A recent Business Week article cites some important research:

  • A Hay Group study shows that an organization’s senior leaders are more likely to overrate themselves and develop blind spots that can hinder their effectiveness.
  • A study by Development Dimensions International, Inc., found that 89 percent of front-line leaders have at least one skills-related blind spot.

The Hay research suggests that, as executives rise within an organization, the less likely they are to see themselves as others perceive them. They often lose touch with those they lead—not surprising, given their increased isolation and the executive suite’s “rarified” atmosphere. As they reach the pinnacle of their profession, they have fewer peers and greater power. Honest feedback and open dialogue often become rare commodities. This poses a serious problem, as researchers have found a direct correlation between high performance and inaccurate self-awareness.

We can group the most common blind spots into five key categories:

1. Experience

2. Personality

3. Values

4. Strategy

5. Conflict

The Experience Blind Spot

We rarely examine or analyze what led to a successful outcome, including luck’s role in the process. We automatically assume we were right on the money. And when we encounter a new situation, we spontaneously draw on our memories of success, without questioning whether prior strategies fit current circumstances.

Thus, a long history of accolades and achievements can potentially produce troublesome blind spots. There is danger in assuming that past results will guarantee future successes.

The Personality Blind Spot

Each personality type has strengths and weaknesses. But when carried to the extreme or inflamed by stressful situations, even our core strengths can become career-damaging weaknesses.

For example, if you’re naturally optimistic, your thinking is biased toward the positive. This is usually good if you’re charged with inspiring others. But there are times when optimism backfires and leaves you blindsided by negative realities—something you miss until it’s too late.

Personality blind spots are often hard to discover because we value our strengths so highly. We often fail to see the downside of what works so well for us. But with increased awareness, you can train yourself to detect emerging blind spots. Ask yourself:

  • Am I playing to the downside of my strengths?
  • How will I know when my strengths blind me to my inherent weaknesses?
  • Who can be a sounding board as I work toward increasing self-awareness?

The Values Blind Spot

When your attitude and emotions are out of sync with your values, you become uncomfortable and unbalanced. What we say and do is incongruent with what we believe and who we are.

Values blind spots can occur on a personal or group level. They are particularly insidious when you’re somewhat aware of them, but fail to take appropriate corrective action.

In business situations, a values blind spot can affect large groups. Can you think of a time when an implicit incentive to maintain the status quo conflicted with a change initiative? That’s a typical values blind spot in action.

Strategy Blind Spots

Organizations often reward conformity and punish critical or questioning voices.

When a collective worldview becomes self-reinforcing around a set of practices, assumptions or beliefs, there is potential for groupthink. Creativity and agility suffer because conformance is valued above change, and risk is discouraged.

Strategy blind spots can occur in any organizational area. Unfortunately, they’re often spotted in hindsight, after an important opportunity is missed.

Leaders who prize openness and transparency have the best chance of spotting strategy blind spots. They encourage input at all levels, fostering a culture of trust where ideas are honestly debated.

The Conflict Blind Spot

Conflict can be healthy in relationships and organizations where trust has been established. Diverse perspectives challenge tunnel vision and the status quo, while promoting learning and innovation. When issues are constructively debated, new solutions emerge.

But it’s human nature to want to defend and win an argument. Conflict becomes destructive when positive energy turns negative and erodes trust. Empathy and insight are tossed aside when we filter incoming information through the lens of what we believe and want. We categorize others as the enemy, who must be wrong.

Instead of debate, conflict becomes a power struggle that prevents you from seeing any solution (other than winning your point).I

You need to reactivate your higher intelligence to find your way out of a conflict blind spot. Slow the discussion; perhaps even take a break. Breathe deeply and re-center yourself. When you return to discussions, acknowledge common ground instead of focusing on gaps.

Overcoming Blind Spots

A blind spot’s effects may not show up right away. Without paying careful attention, you may miss the warning signs. It’s therefore critical for you to proactively work toward discovering them, before you feel the effects.

Consider working with an executive coach. Also take a look at past or current struggles to determine whether blind spots have hindered your performance. What can you learn from your mistakes? What would you do differently in the future? Reframe situations from others’ perspectives.

When you have a vague awareness of a blind spot, fight against the normal psychological inclination to remain anchored in safe, established patterns.  

You can develop these qualities by working with an executive coach. The investment is well worth the reward: your ability to influence the future, your career and your personal-development capabilities.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders put positive leadership into action? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to be more mindful? Positive leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more compelling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I a positive leader who helps individuals and organizations achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders develop more positive teams.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture positivity in the workplace. You can become a positive leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
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http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 

 

 

Categories: 

How Gaps in Skills Impact the Growing US Economy

How Will Gaps in Skills Impact the Growing US Economy?

It is impossible to ignore the skills gap that exists in today's labor market.  Thousands of job openings go unfilled because far too many individuals lack the requisite skills to perform these jobs.

Four years after the Great Recession, good paying jobs remain scarce and unemployment painfully high.  According to some employers,good jobs that do exist can go unfilled for lack of qualified workers. The best jobs – jobs that pay well with benefits are often in health care, high-tech and finance. All require advanced training or years of school. The challenge is to find workers with the right skills, or quickly provide those skills, to support the economic recovery and lift the long-term unemployed out of an ever deepening hole.”

One hopeful spot – public and private partnerships for job retraining offers a possible solution. But the commitment to an overall solution is necessary to reverse some worrisome trends.

Long-term joblessness is alarmingly high. The longer people remain unemployed or underemployed – working in low-paying jobs without benefits or opportunities for advancement the more difficult it will be for them to land a good job.

Without public and private investment in job retraining, workplace experts warn of a permanent underclass of workers trapped in low-skill, low-wage jobs. Employers need to invest more in joint education and job-training programs to fill the thousands of jobs nationally that remain unfilled due to the lack of qualified candidates. Colleges, employers, federal, state and local governments need to collaborate to expand education and training programs that connect adult learners to jobs.

At a time when our nation is focused on job creation and economic recovery, addressing adult education is critical. These programs should be viewed as an important investment in people and our growing economy.”

You can develop the emotional intelligence skills you may need by working with a professional coach. The investment is well worth the reward: your ability to influence the future, your career and your personal-development capabilities.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 

 © Copyright 2014 Dr. Maynard Brusman

Categories: 

Put Positive Leadership into Action

Positive Leadership

John Lennon once said, “Life is something that happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Of course, you can listen to Woody Allen, who famously said: “Half of life is just showing up.”

Executive coaches and leadership consultants who encourage positive thinking often encounter cynical, hard-driving executives with a close eye on the bottom line.

But positivity coaches have come a long way since author Norman Vincent Peale preached his positive philosophy of faith and miracles. Today’s positive-psychology movement is founded on empirical evidence. Social scientists have documented the benefits of optimism, emotional intelligence and happiness in multiple work settings.

Positive leadership is no longer seen as a feel-good ideal with little bearing on business results. Mounting evidence reveals that leaders who focus on their people’s positive contributions, while concomitantly achieving tough goals through measurable tasks, enjoy higher performance outcomes.

While positive leadership is gaining traction among CEOs and executive teams, it’s often poorly understood and implemented. University of Michigan management professor Kim S. Cameron, PhD, offers a cogent definition of the term in his new book,  Practicing Positive Leadership: Tools and Techniques That Create Extraordinary Results (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013):

“Positive leadership refers to the implementation of multiple positive practices that help individuals and organizations achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise.”

Finding the Right Feedback Ratio

A wave of research reveals that “soft”-sounding positive management practices — including conversations focused on dreams, strengths and possibilities — motivate people to achieve higher performance levels. In fact, the more positive the message, the better the outcome.

But managers are charged with pointing out what’s not working and solving real problems — a mandate that presents a potentially frustrating leadership dilemma: How can you focus on the positive when continually required to make corrections?

Richard Boyatzis, PhD, a professor of organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, offers a pragmatic solution: “You need the negative focus to survive, but a positive one to thrive. You need both, but in the right ratio.”

Let’s quantify this ratio. Effective leaders should provide 3–5 positive messages for every negative message they deliver. Your communication must skew heavily toward the positive, without sounding incongruent or inauthentic. If you fail to “accentuate the positive” (to borrow a World War II-era song title), you remain stuck in negative feedback patterns that demotivate your staff.

Barbara L. Frederickson, PhD, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has found that positive feelings expand our awareness of a wider range of possibilities. Instead of looking at what needs to be fixed, we learn to focus on what’s right and needs to be reinforced. When we emphasize positive deeds, using positive language, achievement builds upon itself.

Dr. Frederickson’s psychology research shows that a positive focus bestows greater attentiveness, more flexible problem-solving, enhanced creativity and improved teamwork.

Organizational Positivity

You can identify companies that have implemented positive practices throughout history and compare their mission statements with those of their less successful counterparts.

Positivity clearly appears in mission statements that value societal contributions over the desire to be “No. 1”:

•    Ford Motor Company: democratize the auto (1900s)
•    Boeing: bring the world into the jet age (1950s)
•    Sony: obliterate the image of poor-quality Japanese goods (1960s)
•    Apple: one person, one computer (1980s)

Compare those mission statements with the following:

•    GE: be No. 1 or 2 in every market we serve
•    Walmart: become the first trillion-dollar company
•    Philip Morris: knock off R.J. Reynolds as the No. 1 tobacco company
•    Nike: crush Adidas
•    Honda: destroy Yamaha

Improving your leadership positivity starts with your organization’s mission statement. Ask “why” you and your organization are here; then, ask yourself and your colleagues what you/they want on a deeper level:

•    Which values merit coming to work each day to give your best?
•    How will you inspire staff and customers to make contributions that benefit the world?

Begin to transform your team by attaching everything you say and do to higher goals and values. Leaders, managers and staff become more positive when they pay attention to the language they use. Rephrase statements in a more positive way, without sacrificing honesty or reality.

If you’re in a management position, everything you say – or don’t say – is magnified, making it even more important to boost your positive/negative ratio. Aim for a least a 3:1 (ideally, a 5:1) ratio of positive to negative statements. When you adopt this approach, others will follow suit.

Show Frequent Appreciation

Instead of seizing on what your people do wrong, start to verbally acknowledge what they’re doing right. Track and recognize progress. Most people perform better when they know they’re appreciated, even if it’s only for small wins.

This doesn’t mean you should suppress bad news. Instead, learn to deliver it in ways that are less likely to provoke defensiveness. Your execution will improve with practice. You’ll gain respect and better performance outcomes.

In Search of Best Practices

If we want to staff our organizations with executives who can deliver results and demonstrate superior social skills, we need to start identifying them during the hiring and promotion processes.

Results-oriented executives can learn to improve their social skills by retaining an experienced executive coach. Additionally, organizations can improve their effectiveness by:

1.  Hiring for both technical and social skills
2.  Training equally for social skills and technical savvy
3.  Rewarding goal attainment and displays of social skill
4.  Promoting those who demonstrate social prowess

CEOs and upper management must realize that rewarding achievement alone has its limits. Organizations must provide incentives for behaviors, even when people take risks and “fail up.”

You can develop these qualities by working with a professional coach. The investment is well worth the reward: your ability to influence the future, your career and your personal-development capabilities.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders put positive leadership into action? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to be more positive? Positive leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “ An I a positive leader who  helps individuals and organizations achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders develop more poitive teams.


Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders nurture positivity in the workplace. You can become a positive leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.


Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman
http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman
http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 

 

Categories: 

Optimists and Pessimists at Work

“Success is measured by your ability to maintain enthusiasm between failures.”

-- Sir Winston Churchill

Mahatma Gandhi, Norman Cousins, Helen Keller, Christopher Reeves and Thomas Edison are just a few names that come to mind in a discussion about optimism and success.

Mozart is another example of a genius who had exemplary self-confidence in the face of adversity. A psychological analysis of his correspondence shows that he carried optimism to an almost pathological extreme. Toward the end of his life, when he suffered the deaths of four children, serious illnesses and repeated professional and financial disasters, his optimism actually rose.

People who are considered successful in life measure high on assessments of optimistic attitudes. It would be easy to presume they are optimistic because they are successful, but there is enough research to show that the optimism comes first.

Traditional wisdom puts forth the idea that to be successful, you must have two things:  

1. Talent or aptitude

            2. Motivation

More recent research shows that a third element contributes strongly to success:

3. An optimistic attitude, particularly in the face of adversity.

High scores for optimism are predictive of excellence in everything from sports to health, elections and sales. Dr. Martin Seligman has shown that optimists not only do better educationally and in their careers, they also enjoy superior health and longevity. Dr. Seligman, a researcher and psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of Learned Optimism. He has spent a lifetime studying why some people are more resilient than others.

Optimism Can Be Learned

Very few of us were lucky enough to have been raised with an attitude of optimism. Research shows that it is learned in childhood from maternal caretakers. Psychologists who teach the skills of optimism in their books are Seligman (Learned Optimism), Albert Ellis (Rational Emotive Therapy), David Burns (Feeling Good), and Aaron Beck (Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders).

Pessimists, passive optimists and dynamic optimists all selectively focus their attention. Studies show that pessimists are actually more realistic than optimists. Dynamic optimists interpret their experiences differently than other people. They also influence outcomes differently by translating effective thoughts into specific kinds of actions.

The different ways in which optimists and pessimists focus their attention lead to noticing different things, experiencing different motivations, and taking different actions. The pessimist focuses on problems, pains, and pitfalls. The passive optimist sees only what is encouraging and enjoyable and does not see potential obstacles. This leads to missed opportunities or limited success.  At its worst, it leads to failure, frustration and ill health.

Thus the dynamic optimist dwells on the constructive and enjoyable while de-emphasizing pain, difficulty and frustration. Such a person can look at a frustrating event, fully accept its reality, then choose to interpret the event in a way that leads to action, growth and mastery. They recognize dangers but have a wider vision open to solutions, possibilities.

“Optimalists tend to be benefit finders—the sort of people who find the silver lining in the dark cloud, who make lemonade out of lemons, who look on the bright side of life, and who do not fault writers for using too many cliches. With a knack for turning setbacks into opportunities, the Optimalist goes through life with an overall sense of optimism.”~ Tal Ben-Shahar from The Pursuit of Perfect

Seeing that optimalist and optimism come from the same Latin word for “best” (optimus), it makes sense that an optimalist would be an optimist.

I appreciate the distinction between “fault finders” and “benefit finders.”  Which are you? Do you focus on the lemonade when you get a lemon or do you prefer to complain about what life gives you? 

Now seems like a good time to explore this distinction further. What’s the #1 thing that’s stressing you out right now? 

If it’s *really* bothering you, we can rest assured that you’re in fault finding mode. The best way to get your optimism and therefore “Optimalist”) on is to get into a benefit finding mode.

What are the top 3 things you can really appreciate about your current challenges?

1. __________________________________________________

2. __________________________________________________

3. __________________________________________________

If you are working with an executive coach, you can use the opportunity to work on developing the skills of optimism.

1. Become mindful of your awareness: look at how you selectively focus on events.

2. Examine your internal dialogue; then change what you tell yourself.

3. Do something pleasurable to distract yourself from bad events.

You can develop these qualities by working with a professional coach. The investment is well worth the reward: your ability to influence the future, your career and your personal-development capabilities.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders become more optimistic? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to develop positivity? Enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I an optimist or pessimist?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders create a positive work culture.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders be more optimistic about the future. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 

© Copyright 2014 Dr. Maynard Brusman

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: 

The Myth of the 10,000 Hour Rule – Why Practice Doesn't Always Make Perfect

The 10,000 Hour Rule

"Ask the great athlete or the concert pianist or the successful actor if they arrived at the place where they need no further practice. They will tell you that the higher you climb in proficiency and public acceptance, the greater the need for practice."~ Eric Butterworth from Spiritual Economics

People who consistently stay on mission and on task with focused intensity for an entire decade are often world-class in their special endeavor. They are likely a national brand, or soon will be. In his fascinating book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes that one of the keys to attaining high levels of success is spending ten thousand hours of practice at your chosen craft. The Beatles spent countless hours playing at summer festivals before you ever heard of them. Peyton Manning, widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play football, has been known for his work ethic since he was a child.

Carol Dweck wrote in her great book Mindset: “Is it ability or mindset?Was it Mozart’s musical ability or the fact that he worked till his hands were deformed? Was it Darwin’s scientific ability or the fact that he collected specimens non-stop from early childhood?”

Geniuses & Clods

"The great piano virtuoso Paderewski was once playing before an audience of the rich and the royal. After a brilliant performance, an elegant lady waxed ecstatic over the great artist. She said, "Ah Maestro, you are a genius!" Paderewski tartly replied, "Ah yes, madam, but before I was a genius I was a clod!" What he was saying was that his present acclaim was not handed to him on a silver platter. He, too, was once a little boy laboriously practicing his scales. And even at his peak, behind every brilliant performance there were countless hours of practice and preparation."~ Eric Butterworthfrom Spiritual Economics

It's too easy to look at someone we admire and just assume he or she was simply born a genius or "got lucky." Behind every genius in any field is a clod turned into a genius we admire. Tiger Woods? Check. Oprah? Check. Steve Jobs? Check. These men and women have "practiced" more than most can imagine driven to perform at the highest level of mastery. How about you? What are you putting countless hours of practice and preparation into?

Exceptional people work really hard. But is there more to the story?

The Myth

The “10,000-hour rule”that this level of practice holds the secret to great success in any field has become widely accepted as true. The problem according to Daniel Goleman in his terrific new book is that it’s only half-true. Daniel Goleman"Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence."

According to Goleman, if you are a bad golfer, and continue to make the same mistakes every time you try a certain swing or putt, 10,000 hours of repeatedly practicing that error will not improve your game. You’ll still be a duffer.

My then eight year old son learned this the hard way when he was learning to swim and dive. Maddison would bravely dive off the diving board and do a belly flop. He bravely tried again and again with the same result. I asked one of the swim instructors to coach him on the correct technique, and he rapidly improved.

Anders Ericsson, the Florida State University psychologist whose research on expertise spawned the ten-thousand-hour rule-of-thumb, told Goleman, “You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal.” “You have to tweak the system by pushing allowing for more errors at first as you increase your limits.”

Ericsson argues the secret of winning is “deliberate practice,” where an expert coach takes you through well-designed training over months or years, and you give it your full focus.

How experts in any endeavor pay attention while practicing makes a crucial difference. While novices and amateurs are content to let their passive, bottom-up neural systems take over their routines, experts never rest their active concentration during practice.

For instance, in his much-cited study of violinists – the one that showed the top tier had practiced over 10,000 hours – Ericsson found the experts did so with full concentration on improving a particular aspect of their performance that a master teacher identified. The feedback matters and the concentration does, too – not just the hours.

Daniel Goleman asserts that that learning how to improve any skill requires top-down focus. Neuroplasticity, the strengthening of old brain circuits and building of new ones for a skill we are practicing, requires our undivided attention: When practice occurs while we are focusing elsewhere, the brain does not rewire the relevant circuitry for that particular routine.

Daydreaming or letting our mind wander defeats practice. Those of us who browse TV while working out will never reach the top ranks. Paying full attention and being mindful boosts the mind’s processing speed, strengthen synaptic connections, and expands or creates neural networks for what we are practicing.

As you master how to execute the new routine, repeated practice transfers control of that skill from the top-down system for intentional focus to bottom-up circuits that eventually make its execution effortless. At that point you don’t need to think about it. You can then do the routine well enough on automatic.

And this is where amateurs and experts are strikingly different. Amateurs are content at some point to let their efforts become bottom-up operations. After about 50 hours of training whether in skiing or driving people get to that “good-enough” performance level. They can go through the motions more or less effortlessly. They no longer feel the need for concentrated practice, but are content to coast on what they’ve learned. No matter how much more they practice in this bottom-up mode, their improvement will be limited.

The experts, in contrast, keep paying attention top-down, intentionally counteracting the brain’s urge to automatize routines.They concentrate actively on those moves they have yet to perfect, on correcting what’s not working in their game, and on refining their mental models of how to play the game. The secret to smart practice boils down to focus on the particulars of feedback from a seasoned coach.

Daniel Goleman’s brilliant insights apply to mindful leadership. Leaders can receive feedback, and develop these new and more productive habits by working with an executive coach. The investment is well worth the reward: your ability to influence the future, your career and your professional-development capabilities.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders practice the right behaviors? Does your organization provideexecutive coaching for leaders who need to learn how to model effective   Mindful leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I consistently practicing the right behaviors for success?” Emotionally intelligent and compassionate companies provide executive coaching to help leaders model desired competencies.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders be more focused. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged withthe vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 © Copyright 2014 Dr. Maynard Brusman

Categories: 

Job Creation and the Economic Recovery

Skills Gap

It is impossible to ignore the skills gap that exists in today's labor market. Thousands of job openings go unfilled because far too many individuals lack the requisite skills to perform these jobs.

Four years after the Great Recession, good paying jobs remain scarce and unemployment painfully high.  According to some employers,good jobs that do exist can go unfilled for lack of qualified workers. The best jobs – jobs that pay well with benefits are often in health care, high-tech and finance. All require advanced training or years of school. The challenge is to find workers with the right skills, or quickly provide those skills, to support the economic recovery and lift the long-term unemployed out of an ever deepening hole.”

One hopeful spot – public and private partnerships for job retraining offers a possible solution. But the commitment to an overall solution is necessary to reverse some worrisome trends.

Long-term joblessness is alarmingly high. The longer people remain unemployed or underemployed – working in low-paying jobs without benefits or opportunities for advancement the more difficult it will be for them to land a good job.

Without public and private investment in job retraining, workplace experts warn of a permanent underclass of workers trapped in low-skill, low-wage jobs. Employers need to invest more in joint education and job-training programs to fill the thousands of jobs nationally that remain unfilled due to the lack of qualified candidates. Colleges, employers, federal, state and local governments need to collaborate to expand education and training programs that connect adult learners to jobs.

At a time when our nation is focused on job creation and economic recovery, addressing adult education is critical. These programs should be viewed as an important investment in people and our growing economy.”

You can develop the emotional intelligence or soft skills you may need by working with a professional coach. The investment is well worth the reward: your ability to influence the future, your career and your personal-development capabilities.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.”
Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 

 © Copyright 2014 Dr. Maynard Brusman

 

Categories: 

Leading through Inquiry - Do Ask, Don’t Tell

Good communication is a hallmark of healthy organizations, but it’s often founded on the belief that employees thrive when given clear directions. In today’s increasingly complex organizations, it’s not enough to tell people what to do.

Leaders who ask evocative questions instead of giving instructions set the stage for better communication, employee engagement and high performance.

After airplane crashes, chemical and nuclear accidents, oil spills, hospital errors and cruise-ship disasters, expert reviewers have frequently found that lower-ranking employees had information that could have prevented these events or lessened their consequences. Senior managers were guilty of ignoring their subordinates and being consistently resistant to hearing bad news.

Employees often worry about upsetting their bosses, so they settle for silence—a decision that exposes their organizations to risks with potentially irreversible outcomes. This dynamic plays out in government offices, hospitals and corporations with divisions in power and status, regardless of how democratic and “fair” they claim to be.

How can you create a climate that encourages people to speak up, especially when safety is on the line? How do you convince your staff to correct you when you’re about to make a mistake?

Learn to ask the right questions instead of telling your staff what to do.

Questions should be genuine, based on curiosity and without an agenda. Effective leaders master the art of “humble inquiry,” says Edgar H. Schein, PhD, an MIT Sloan School of Management professor emeritus and consultant.

In his new book, Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013), Dr. Schein describes his title’s skill as “the art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.”

Unfortunately, asking questions runs counter to traditional business cultures that value achievement and performance over building relationships. Nonetheless, soliciting others’ input is a fundamental aspect of human relations for leaders who want to foster solid relationships, trust, communication and high performance.

What’s Wrong with Telling?

We live in a culture of telling, where conversations become opportunities to show how smart or funny we are. While we ask questions to show interest in another person, we just as often want to sway them to our viewpoint or get something from them.

When we tell, we put other people in a position of inferiority they come to resent. One-way communication implies that they don’t know what we’re telling them and that they should already know it. This approach provokes defensiveness. People stop listening to you so they can work on a snarky comeback.

In contrast, asking questions temporarily empowers your conversation partners, giving them an opportunity to share what they know. You deliberately put yourself in the inferior position: of wanting to know something about them. This technique opens the door to relationship-building.

The Fear Behind Asking Questions

Displaying vulnerability is truly terrifying for many leaders.

You have to make a choice:

A. Risk appearing fallible by asking questions.

B. Risk creating a culture where people wait to be told what to do.

Take the first step: Banish any obsolete beliefs about omnipotence, and focus on practicing humility, Dr. Schein emphasizes. Ask real questions. Embrace the reality that you depend on your subordinates. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with soliciting their feedback.

Defining Inquiry

Professional pollsters, researchers, therapists and executive coaches have dedicated years to refining their inquiry skills. The rest of us take it for granted that we know how to ask questions. We tend to mimic our role models—usually parents, teachers and bosses—who rely on superficial or social questions that are essentially disguised forms of telling:

  • Why weren’t you at home (in class, at the meeting)?
  • How could you screw this up?
  • When did I ever tell you to do this?
  • What were you thinking?

These seemingly open-ended questions are actually quite controlling. If you want someone to reveal the full story, avoid steering conversations in any given direction. Distinguish open inquiry (Dr. Schein’s “humble inquiry”) from the three other types of inquiry:

1. Diagnostic

2. Confrontational

3. Process-oriented

Open Inquiry

Open inquiry evolves from authentic interest in another person. We ask questions to encourage honesty and minimize preconceived biases. We have no real agenda, other than to discover what’s on the other person’s mind.

Diagnostic Inquiry

It’s easy to veer off the path of open inquiry by homing in on a particular detail. Doing so may steer the conversation in a different direction and inadvertently return control to you.

Determine why you’re doing this. Are you trying to get the job done, or are you inappropriately indulging your curiosity?

Confrontational Inquiry

Leaders sometimes insert their own ideas in the form of a leading or rhetorical question. By doing so, you’re tacitly giving advice and trying to influence your conversation partner’s answers.Your partner may experience this as manipulative and become resistant.

Process-Oriented Inquiry

Leaders practice process-oriented inquiry when their focus is the conversation itself. This may be helpful when a discussion starts badly. You can explore solutions by asking:

  •  “What’s happening right now?”
  • “Are you feeling defensive?”
  • “Have I offended you in some way?”
  • Are we OK?”

It takes discipline and practice to allow yourself to appear vulnerable. Consider working with an executive coach to break through any vulnerability barriers and perfect the art of humble inquiry.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development to help leaders practice mindfulness meditation and reinvent themselves? Does your organization provideexecutive coaching for leaders who need to learn how to ask inquiry-type questions? Enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Do I lead through inquiry?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching to help leaders develop more effective teams.

John Lennon once said, “Life is something that happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Of course, you can listen to Woody Allen, who famously said: “Half of life is just showing up.”

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help leaders be better communicators. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged withthe vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman
http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman
http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

 

 © Copyright 2013 Dr. Maynard Brusman

 

 

Categories: 

Top Ten Leadership Lessons

As the year comes to an end, I am especially grateful for the privilege to work with extraordinary leaders and their teams, serving as a confidante and thinking partner to help them achieve what’s most important.

The common thread is their openness to new ideas and ways of thinking as well as their commitment to growing their business, themselves and others.

They’re thinking bigger as they jump into the New Year. I hope you are too.

 

Below is a Top 10 List of Leadership Lessons based on my work with these leaders over this year.

 

Top 10 Leadership Lessons

 

1. Questions inspire change.

One determined executive is challenging and changing the status quo in her organization and the broader business community. She understands the importance of asking good questions to uncover what people really care about first. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Margaret Wheatley: “Real change begins with the simple act of people talking about what they care about most.”  As a leader, you can’t force change, but you can inspire change. Think about the questions you’re asking.

 

2. Change fosters growth.

There are some executives who have made radical changes by taking on a new role within their own organization.  A couple of executives left their organizations to transition to new senior management roles in other companies.  I’ve observed their personal and leadership growth over the years. They have created new opportunities to grow themselves and make a bigger impact. Approach change as an opportunity.

 

3. Dysfunction is everywhere.

Some leaders are relieved to know that they are not the only ones experiencing dysfunction at work. Dysfunction exists in different forms in teams, partnerships and organizations. The best leaders are always working to improve conditions and performance. Don’t be distracted by dysfunction. Seek constant improvement.

 

4. Adversity builds strength.

Some clients have had a personal battle with cancer and other illnesses that, to anyone else, would appear devastating. They have emerged stronger with a clearer sense of business priorities and personal mission. Their conviction to make a difference in and through their business is even stronger. Whatever difficulties you face will make you a better leader.

 

5. Surprise sharpens focus.

No one likes being blindsided. When leaders are blindsided, they’re forced to look at areas of their business or people in their business that need attention. When a top performer leaves unexpectedly, when a competitor comes out of nowhere and takes a chunk of your business, when you discover money flowing out of the business into the wrong pockets, you’re forced to see what went wrong and what can be done to prevent the problem in the future.

6. Fit matters. 

 

Some of the most talented leaders I’ve worked with have been extremely frustrated when they find themselves in a corporate culture that doesn’t fit them.  You may have outgrown your environment, or simply landed in a toxic environment that doesn’t suit you. You can be the most talented leader, but jeopardize results and/or your career if you’re swimming in the wrong pond. The most courageous people will make their leap into different waters that allow them to thrive. You must know when it’s time to jump.

7. Name the elephant. 

Inevitably, as a leader, you will be in situations that require you to talk about sensitive or difficult issues. Clients who “name the elephant in the room” have seen better results because they’re not dancing around issues. They’re moving through them with their teams even when the issues are uncomfortable to discuss. Name and claim your elephant.

 

8. Guard your time. 

A common complaint I’ve heard from executives is not being able to get things done. The higher your leadership level within an organization, the more important it is to carve out “thinking time,” not just “doing time.” Understand the value of your time and spend it wisely. “Time management systems” aren’t necessarily the solution. It starts with knowing what’s most important. Say “no” more frequently. Focus your time and attention deliberately on top priorities.

 

9. Trust your team.

Even the most “hands-on” leaders have learned to let go, or at least transfer ownership of some responsibilities to team members. Your team members want to grow. They want to be trusted to assume greater responsibility over time. Give them the chance. You’ll free yourself up to take on more important responsibilities and achieve better team performance.

 

10. Find the funny.

Despite some of the most difficult problems, there is usually humor to be found somewhere. Leaders who maintain a good sense of humor engage their team differently, and just make work more enjoyable. They’re able to laugh at themselves. As one CEO said, “I’m out of my comfort zone when I roll out of bed and my feet hit the floor!”

 

If you are a client, thank you for the opportunity to be of service. You may have recognized yourself in some of the lessons shared.

 

If you are not a client, perhaps we’ll have the chance to work together in the New Year.

Let me know when or how I can be of help.

 

Whether you’re a client, follower or friend, I encourage you to create your own top 10 list of lessons learned. 

You can also do this as an exercise with your team as you start the New Year.

You’ll hit the ground running with greater clarity and focus.

Categories: 

How to Be an Empathic Listener

"There comes a time in the spiritual journey when you start making choices from a very different place. . . And if a choice lines up so that it supports truth, health, happiness, wisdom, and love, it's the right choice."
--Angeles Arrien

I recently spoke with the HR Director of a San Francisco Bay Area company regarding providing executive coaching for the company CEO and other leaders. She asked some very insightful questions to determine fit. She wanted to know how I worked with different personality styles, and my methods for initiating change in thinking and behavior.

The HR Director and I spoke about my approach to coaching, and my belief that possessing a psychological understanding of human behavior based on neuroscience and business acumen are important competencies for coaching executives. We also spoke of the need for her organization to create a high involvement culture where innovation and creativity flourishes.

The HR Director is interested in collaborating with me to help senior executives improve their listening skills, and get the most out of their executive coaching programs. We further discussed how company leaders could benefit by working with an executive development expert and emotional intelligence-based executive coach.

"If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is.  If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it." - Steve Jobs

When I was working with a senior executive at a silicon Valley high tech company my client said to me, “I have been an emphatic talker my whole life and now it’s time for me to become an emphatic listener.” The term got me thinking. What does it mean to be an emphatic listener–to listen with mindfulness?

Active listening involves repeating what’s been said–as a way to assure the speaker that you’re listening and a way to process the information yourself. To my mind, emphatic listening is how you behave and think while the other person is speaking. It’s how you concentrate on what’s being said.

Here are 5 ways to be an emphatic listener:

1) Don’t judge what others are saying while they are saying it. When you’re having a casual conversation with a friend, it’s easy to slip into judging mode. While they explain something, your internal voice/judge is thinking: yep, nope, maybe, no, absolutely yes. If you’re judging, though, you’re not listening fully. You’re not listening emphatically.

2) Quiet your predictive impulses and stay attuned to the others’ words and meaning. People are prediction machines. Our minds race to the end of what others are saying before they can even complete their thoughts. As a result, we stop listening mid-thought, interrupt mid-sentence and finish the thought for them out loud, or simply finish it in our minds.

3) Find a connection. People are meaning-making machines. We want to understand and draw connections. When we don’t understand something, our brains race to make associations. If we can’t find one, we don’t retain what we’ve heard and become easily distracted. We stop listening. If you can’t find a connection, ask the speaker to pause and help you find one.

4) Set aside your objections. If what is being said makes you uncomfortable or goes against your beliefs or values, don’t stop listening. Listening doesn’t presume agreement. If you listen emphatically, others will listen to you. They will be in a better position to listen to your objections when they’re done speaking.

5) Stay emotionally grounded.Your emotions are like a fog horn over your ability to truly hear what another is saying. To be an emphatic listener, you must silence that emotional noise. Often the most important words are said faintly and they will go missed if your fog horn is sounding.

How are you doing at emphatic listening?

"In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel 'burnout' setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective." – Dalai Lama

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to improve their listening skills? Mindful leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to connect with their people.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I an empathetic listener?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their transformational high performance leadership development program.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

Subscribe to Working Resources Newsletter: http://www.workingresources.com
Visit Maynard's Blog: http://www.workingresourcesblog.com 
Connect with me on these Social Media sites.

http://twitter.com/drbrusman
http://www.facebook.com/maynardbrusman

http://www.linkedin.com/in/maynardbrusman

http://www.youtube.com/user/maynardbrusman

Categories: 

Better Listening for Mindful Leaders

"In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel 'burnout' setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective." - Dalai Lama

I recently spoke with the HR Director of a San Francisco Bay Area company regarding providing executive coaching for the company CEO and other leaders. She asked some very insightful questions to determine fit. She wanted to know how I worked with different personality styles, and my methods for initiating change in thinking and behavior.

The HR Director and I spoke about my approach to coaching, and my belief that possessing a psychological understanding of human behavior based on neuroscience and self-awareness are important competencies for coaching executives. We also spoke of the need for her organization to create a high involvement culture where innovation and creativity flourishes.

The HR Director is interested in collaborating with me to help senior executives improve their listening skills, and get the most out of their executive coaching programs. We further discussed how company leaders could benefit by working with an executive development expert, and emotional intelligence and mindfulness-based executive coach.

"If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is.  If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it." - Steve Jobs

The Three Levels of Awareness

Mindful leaders are focused and attentive to other people. Their rapt attention allows them to be fully engaged in a conversation without the mind wandering. It takes mindful presence.

Level One Awareness has an internal focus on oneself. You may only half hear and see what is happening around you as your internal train of thought monopolizes your attention
Level Two Awareness has an external focus on the person or people you are with. You are fully open and receptive to colleagues. You are not distracted by internal thoughts, and are in the here-and-now rather than speculating on what will happen next.
Level Three Awareness is directed towards the person or people you are with, but goes beyond this. You don’t just pick up what they are doing or saying; you pick up on all sorts of other things - body language, inflections in the voice, pauses and hesitations, dynamics. You have a sixth sense and an increased sense of presence.

Listening Inquiry Questions

The following are some questions you might ask in an attentive and mindful workplace conversation. Of course, you need a trusting relationship.

  1. I am getting the perception you are not listening.  If I am off, let me know.  If I am on, let me know.
  2. If the person says “yes…you are right…I am not listening….I am distracted”, then say “How does your not listening during our conversation also show up in your work and personal life?”
  3. Name the emotion you feel when someone is not listening.
  4. Paint the scenario for me. When someone is truly listening, how do you know it?
  5. What great listeners are your role models? How can you pick up on some of their listening traits?
  6. What would be the perfect environment that would allow you to listen deeply to others?
  7. What habits do you need to change in order to strengthen your listening skills?
  8. If you do have a lack of focus, have you spoken to your physician about this?  If not, when will you?
  9. What would be possible for your team/your relationships at home/your company if you were listening to the greatest level possible?
  10. What one skill could you improve, starting today, that would improve your listening?
  11. When someone comes to you with a complaint, if you get defensive, what is your plan to sit calmly and listen? (Do you need to take a break to the bathroom to gather yourself together, etc.?)
  12. What gifts and assets do you have which can help you with your listening skills?
  13. What do you believe about listening? What is your philosophy on the topic of listening?
  14. What is the dollar amount you may lose if you don’t improve your listening skills?

Activities to Enhance Listening

Self-Observation: Ask the person to observe himself listening without judgment and to write, blog or podcast about his view.

Busy City: Ask the person to sit in a busy city or busy restaurant, and when something is spoken that “perks him up”, ask him to jot down what the subject was about.

Non Interruption, Pause, Question: For one week, ask the person to not interrupt the speaker, to pause for 3 seconds after the speaker finishes talking and then to stay in question mode.

Clarification/Repeating Exercise: Ask the person to practice with a trusted family member or colleague.  Ask the person to listen to a story without interruption, and then repeat back what he heard. Ask for feedback from the speaker.

Assessments for Better Listening

Time Mastery Profile: Download a Sample Time Mastery Profile

Personal Listening Profile: Download a Sample Listening Profile

The Listening Oral Interview 360 Degree Feedback: Download a Sample Listening 360

Additional Resources

Look Like You’re Listening by Marshall Goldsmith

Are You Listening to Me? by Richard Bierck

The Art of Listening by Eric Frohmm

Are You Really Listening by Paul J., Ph.D. Donoghue and Mary E. Siegel

Listening is Critical in Today’s Multicultural Workplace by Roger O. Crockett

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to become better listeners? Mindful leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Am I an attentive listener who stays focused in the moment?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their transformational high performance leadership development program.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

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