Reflective mirror on the wall

How do you know you’re an effective leader? How can you become more effective and lead better? These are questions many leaders often contemplate and consider from time to time. Doing something about it is however something else. Reflecting on leadership is key to being a leader

Having been on the Florence Nightingale Leadership Scholarship for a few months, participants go through an assessment phase on their personal, learning, emotional and political influencing skills and preferences. These help you understand yourself as a an individual and as a leader. I call it looking into the ‘leadership mirror’ and seeing it from the perspective of others.

For most looking in the mirror is seeing what you expect, or hope to see. Sometimes though you may see the real ‘you’. And the real ‘you’ is what’s important because it is how others see you.

I recently met with someone who said something very interesting. Nothing negative but it struck me I was in a ‘work groove’. These are like old scratched records that plays the same line of a song over and over again. The feedback was basically stop doing the doing and start doing the leading because people need you to lead.

Sometimes feedback in a conversation can be profound and make a difference. There is no such thing as failure, only feedback, and feedback that provokes, is powerful. Feedback is key and it’s hard as leaders to get critical feedback, therefore it’s essential you surround yourself with critical thinkers as well as crucial colleagues who will feedback and point out a critical key element that can make a difference.

These sort of people exist around you it’s about finding them. I’m blessed to have a great mentor on my Florence Nightingale Scholarship. She encouraged me to read two books, the first I’m well into. It’s Nancy Klein’s book called ‘Time to think’.

It’s an interesting read because it doesn’t talk about squirreling away and navel gazing,  but allowing people to use time to work through problems themselves. I was struck reading it about my Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) I did some years ago and how we have the resources and tools to solve many of our own problems. I equally recognised the poor habits that I and others have got into in meetings and socially:

  • Not focussing on the speaker – how many of us have allow technology to interrupt meetings and not focussing – reading emails for example.
  • Not maintaining eye contact –  by maintaining eye contact you are committing to listening to every word of the speaker and giving them your total attention.
  • Interrupting and finishing sentences for people. While often meant in a supportive way, it also means you’re in a hurry and for them to get to the point.
  • Not respecting silence in conversations, and meetings. Silence can be the percolator of ideas and solutions it’s when the mind is working through the problem.

There are lots more and I would recommend and encourage you read this book, especially if you think we can be more effective in our own thoughts and how we communicate. It really allows you to start to see the habits that make a difference and how to respect people and allow them to be free radical thinkers.

Applying this as a small cohort, we had a session called co-consulting. Another way of putting this is peer coaching. Working in groups, we shared a problem. We asked clarifying question and then went through enabling questions. We feedback what we heard and saw, however the key thing was that there was no suggestion of what she or he should do; was said was what the situation felt, looked like and what they may wish to consider to liberate the problem. Within an hour for each of us I saw lightbulb a flashing. I had a few eureka moments and the key thing was I identified the solution because I was enabled to think through key issues in a space with time to think.Tip_of_the_day_bulb

In today’s fast pace of delivery, whether in health, education, business or even personal lives, having time to think through an issue is key, and most, if not all of the solutions are already exist we just have to identify them. Our frantic lifestyles and pace just hide them away and by refocusing and having time  and empty head space to find them, allows you to re-identify the solution that was always existed just buried under the clutter of daily life.

What has this meant for me? I now give people 101% of their time. I actively listen and intend that to become a natural habit. If I don’t have time to concentrate I don’t attempt to try. I ensure i give time to people rather than try to focus on three things and in reality focus on none. I also now reflect on why I’m struggling with finding a solution. I consider how I’m feeling and what resources I need to liberate my thinking. My aim is now to identify a group of radical constructive thinkers who will enable me to think differently and identify my next steps. Are you ready to take that journey?

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