I recently worked with Harry, who was very excited about his coaching journey. He was enthusiastic about the opportunity to further explore and embed learning from the leadership program he was undertaking though the ongoing coaching framework.
At the first session Harry wanted to talk about improving his communication skills. We explored how he currently experienced communication and how he felt others experienced his communication. We explored intention and impact. Where did this align and where did it not?
A strong realisation that Harry uncovered was that he didn’t listen. Like most highly skilled and talented professionals Harry solved problems for a living. This was getting in the way, (unintentionally) masking his ability to truly listen. Hence he often:
- Missed the real issue;
- Solved the wrong problems; and
- Silenced other voices in his team resulting in shutting down innovation, diversity and creativity.
None of this was intentional; Harry is well-intentioned, he cares and he wants people to succeed.
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Excited by this revelation, Harry was ready to ‘fix’ his communication skills with the goal of being a better listener and leader.
We met a second time a month after his first session. Harry was beaming.
“I have been listening it has been great! At our last leadership meeting I listened, I waited until everyone had spoken and then … (imagine a big smile, leaning back and a movement forward, like playing the winning card onto the table) I delivered the trump card!”
I could see how happy Harry was. He was trying something new, which is incredibly exciting and the first step to examining habitual ways of operating. This takes courage, curiosity and humility.
I asked Harry what he was doing while his team members were talking? Was he listening or designing his trump card?
“S**t I wasn’t listening was I?”
How would your conversations transform today if you truly listened without your agenda running in the background?
Pollyanna Lenkic is an author, coach, and speaker who works with leading organisations. She is an expert in building high-performing teams. Her structured approach delivers an uplift of 25% in team performance. To work with Pollyanna go to her website.