Active listening leads to understanding

asian man speaking woman listening isolated on white background. Active Listening

Have you ever been misunderstood? Felt like you were treated unfairly because of what you said? Remember a time where an argument broke out from what you thought was an innocent conversation.

It happens to everyone. And it happens because of a lack of listening. In fact, a failure to practice Active Listening is one of the largest causes of misunderstandings and arguments.

While we can’t control how others react or how well they listen, we can control ourselves. We can do our best to make sure that WE are not the cause of misunderstanding. 

And that’s where the practice of Active Listening comes in. Apply these tips and you will have a good head start to be an Active Listening practitioner.

Open posture

Most of the time, our body obeys our mind. Whether consciously or unconsciously, our body will do what the mind tells it. We walk, we run, we touch, we hold. Mouth moves, sound comes out. All because of impulses from the mind sent to parts of the body.

There are times, however, when the mind will pay attention to the body. Feet pointed towards a door denotes a desire to escape. The mind picks up on that and says, “Hey, we are already late!” Off you go. 

Arms and legs crossed give signals of protecting or shielding. Your mind senses danger, either physical or verbal, and goes into protection mode. It is basic non-verbal communication.

Active Listening Posture

Let’s turn it around. If you face the speaker with arms at your side or resting on a surface, you display openness. The mind picks up on those cues and therefore commands the rest of the body to pay attention. Even more so, the speaker’s mind will likely pick up on that as well. Tone and mood changes when the speaker perceives you are open to what they have to say.

Eye contact is your friend

The eyes, they say, are the window to the soul. That really stands out when you are engaged in conversation. Your eyes tell the speaker that you are anxious to hear what they have to say. Or they tell them you would much rather be anywhere but here.

When listening, your eyes should be open. Look at the speaker. You want to send the message that you are open and relaxed. Smile and your eyes and the rest of your face will follow suit. 

But Not too much

On the other hand, be careful about making too much eye contact. Too much eye contact and you look like you are staring. Use the 70% guideline. Make eye contact with the speaker about 70% of the time. More than that and you look like you are staring. 

Keep in mind, however, that the 70 rule is a general rule. A speaker who is introverted or not very sure of themselves may be actually put off by 70% eye contact. Note how the speaker reacts. If you are making eye contact and they look away, then you should look away too.

Undivided attention

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone while they are thumbing away on their smartphone? It’s annoying! You can’t really tell if they are paying attention or not. And if you bring it up, they try to tell you they can do that and listen at the same time. They are a great multitasker!

As we have mentioned before, multi-tasking doesn’t work  . For anyone. If someone you are talking to tries to multi-task, you have a right to ask for their full attention or talk another time. If someone is speaking to you, you owe them the respect of your full, undivided attention. If you are unable to give it at the same, you owe them the privilege of getting it another time.

No Interruptions

Psychologist listening to her patient and writing notes, mental health and counseling. Psychologist consulting and psychological therapy session concept, toned photoEmail stays there until you look at it. Phones have voicemail. Let them be until you are done. Unless you have an urgent family matter pending, there should not be a reason to allow a speaker to be interrupted. 

And YOU shouldn’t be the interruption either. Sometimes you will hear things you feel you need to react to right away. Don’t. What you want is to be able to respond, not react. Almost always when you react instead of respond things do not go well after that.

Don’t react. RESPOND.

And the time to respond is after the speaker has finished, not during. Don’t spend time trying to formulate your response while they are speaking either. You are spending time and space in your mind coming up with your response, which means you aren’t listening anymore. Stephen Coveyonce said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.” Is that true of you? Take some more advice from Covey. “Seek first to understand, then be understood.

Affirm the speaker

Feedback is valuable. As John Maxwell says, “Feedback is currency for leaders.” It’s pretty much valuable currency for anyone. When you are engaged in a vital conversation, it’s important there too. While the other person is speaking, they will pause occasionally; sometimes to catch their breath, other times to gather their thoughts. 

This is the perfect time to provide a quick affirmation. You want to let them know you are interested, that you are paying attention, and you want to hear more. You can learn a lot of phrases but the best response is a genuine response based on what they have said so far. “That’s interesting!” or “Tell me more.” or even “Really?!” It can even be as simple as a quick little “uh-huh” or “OK” or “yes“. 

Keep in mind the objective is to encourage the speaker, not stop them in their tracks. Use language that is natural for you and don’t use the same one every time.

Question for clarity

When the speaker completes a thought, take the time to ask a question. Your objective here is seek understanding. So your question should require more than a yes or no response. You also want to take great care not to make your question a challenge or rebuttal. Look to fill in the blanks that may be left by what the speaker has said so far.

Tell them what they said

Once the speaker has finished it is the perfect time to respond. Start by repeating back what they said in your own words. “So what I hear you saying is…” and then repeat it. One of two things will happen. Either they will confirm your understanding or they will correct your understanding. Either way, it’s a win-win. They know that you actually paid attention and you know have a clear picture of what you are responding to. 

Search the Feelings

Words have meaning. Part of that meaning is conveyed through the way that they are said. A study by Psychology Professor Albert Mehrabianonce discovered that WHAT WE SAY accounts for ONLY 7% of communication. The rest is handled by the WAY WE SAY IT and WHAT OTHERS SEE when we are saying it. So to really get meaning, we also have to get feeling. Listen and look for emotional content. A tone of voice, volume, and emphasis. And also

Look for Cues

Cartoon of business people who are having a non-verbal communication meeting.Body language also contains a good amount of context and content. Some say it is as large as 68% of meaning. A growing number of people are disagreeing with that. Whatever the number actually is, there is no denying that non-verbal communication is critical to your achieving understanding. Gestures, stance, and facial expressions all convey intent and emotion and meaning. 

The more you pay attention to the whole picture in communication, the more meaning and understanding is gained. Communication actually occurs. That is practicing Active Listening.

Need help building excellent communications within your organization or team. Schedule a free Discovery Strategy Sessionwith me today to see how we can help you.

 

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Trust is the Key Element

Young man in formal clothing and eyeglasses swearing in being trustworthy while looking at camera.

Have you ever been in a situation with other people where something just seems to be missing? There is an uneasiness in conversations. This really stands out among teams. Discussions about work and assignments just seem to have this “air” about them. Something just doesn’t feel quite right.

Then it hits you. There is a lack of trust. Either you don’t trust them or you get the eerie feeling that they don’t trust you. It may even be both. As a result, things are not flowing. Work is not nearly as productive as it could be. You may even be missing deadlines. Communication suffers. The team just does not mesh together. And until that is resolved, it will only get worse.

Trust is Character

Some years back UCLA did a survey of 1300 executives around the country and they asked for five traits that were keys to advancement for employees. All 1300 of them included INTEGRITY somewhere in the list.

Here’s the real kicker.
71% of executives rated INTEGRITY AS NUMBER ONE TRAIT!
Integrity comes from trust. You can’t have integrity with others unless they trust you. So, obviously, being trustworthy is a critical character trait if you want to move up the corporate ladder, keep your employees, or build your customer base.

 

  • Bob Burgwill tell you that “all things being equal people will do business with people they know, like, and TRUST”.
  • The first law of the Boy Scout Law   , which defines how a Boy Scout is supposed to live their life, is A Scout is Trustworthy.  Here’s the explanation: “A Scout always tells the truth. He is honest and keeps his promises.  People can depend on him.”

The Key to Any Relationship

Trust is critical to any relationship or team

Our trustworthiness is also quite obviously a key to our relationships with others.  

  • If your spouse or significant other can’t trust you, the relationship is destroyed.  
  • Once your friends learn not to trust you and count on you, then they will simply no longer expect anything from you and eventually will simply stop being around you or having your around.
  • When your co-workers can’t trust you, then you will not be able to function as a team.  
  • If your employees can’t trust you, they will become disengaged and productivity suffers; not to mention the bottom line.

We know this, yet somehow the focus on trust seems to be lost somewhere in the desire to “close the deal” or secure what we want.

When we focus on trust, however, we find that acquiring those things and closing that deal becomes easier because of who we are and what we stand for.
When we are trustworthy, we are the goto person that everyone counts on to make it happen.  That has value in so many ways, including financially.

The Kiss of Trust

Trust brings opportunity. Many years ago I was part of a training development company that had just made the INC 500 list.

Our development team was small – I was the third member. Despite being the junior member of the team, I was given a prime opportunity to be trustworthy.
The company focused primarily on software training. For a particular course, we would typically produce a disk and a manual to accompany it.

Opportunity to Build Trust

A new software, something called

Windows

, was coming out. The president, a man of great vision, saw that it would become big. We needed to produce a premier training product for this. At the same time, he wanted a total redesign of the product. He came to me. “I’m putting you in charge of this,” he said. “I’ve seen your work and I think you are the man to give us something totally new. Raise the bar! No limits!”

“Oh, you have one week to give me a prototype!”
One week! To give something totally new and evolutionary. I didn’t know how I could possibly deliver something like that. Yet I knew that I was being counted on to deliver. Mess this up and we are behind.
I delivered. On time. I turned it in to him for review and thought nothing more of it. Just doing my job.
The next day this company president sternly walked into our office space. “Paul, come here a minute,” he ordered as he placed a chair in the middle of the room. I was confused. Had I failed? Was he going to publicly embarrass me for my failure?
He ordered me to stand on the chair. Now I was really bewildered. Was I going to change a lightbulb? “What in the world is going on,” I thought!
“I’m doing this because my back can’t take my getting on the ground,” he explained. 

Then he leaned over and KISSED MY SHOE! 

“I absolutely LOVE the new product! I knew you would come through and you did! I felt I needed to make sure you knew it!”
He had placed his trust in me for this new product. As a result, I was determined not to let him down and I put in the long hours to get in done. I did my best to go above and beyond to exceed his expectations. I did not want his trust to go unfounded.
And because he made himself vulnerable I learned I could trust him. Because he showed me respect I knew I could count on him. I trusted him. And from that moment on until the end of my time at that company I was prepared to do whatever he asked me to do. We are still friends today and I still greatly admire and respect him.
Being trustworthy is the deal-maker…or the deal breaker.

Trust is a Two-Way Street

It’s not enough that we are trustworthy as leaders, it is also critical that we can trust those whom we serve. In fact, the first move is always ours. If you don’t trust them, they will never trust you. You can have a proven track record yet if you make it clear that you don’t have trust in your team they will never fully trust you. They will always think you are holding something back. You may even have their grudging respect but will never have their trust until you first learn to trust them. 

Here are some ways you can build trust on a daily basis:

  1. turning up the dial on trustLEARN TO TRUST – start small by delegating out small tasks you would normally do to individual team members. Give them a deadline. Offer support. And let them have at it. I believe you will be surprised at the results.
  2. PRODUCE RESULTS – when you have a proven track record of accomplishing things people will trust you to do the things you say you are going to do.  Meet the deadline or accomplish the task no matter how challenging it is.
  3. GIVE YOUR WORD ONLY WHEN YOU MEAN IT – Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  4. KEEP YOUR WORD AT ALL COSTS –  This is critical.  When people know that no matter what you are going to do what you say you are going to do, then your trustworthiness grows and builds over time.
  5. BE CONSISTENT – Consistency is a key to both trustworthiness and integrity.  People need to know what they can count on.
  6. RESPECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS – When you show respect for other people and respect yourself, then people will believe and trust that you are who you say you are and you will do what you say you are going to do.
Is that team dynamic not quite there? Don’t let it get away from you! Let’s fix it together! Schedule your free Discovery Strategy Session    and let’s see how I can help you and your team MOVE TO THE NEXT LEVEL!
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Why Employee Happiness May Not Really Be Your Goal

Happy and Unhappy faces. Does emplyee happiness equal engagement?

Are you focusing on the wrong thing with employee engagement? It seems that in many cases we are. Do a Google search    on employee engagement and see how many other words pop up with it. When I do one of the words that comes up most frequently is happiness. The suggestion is that employee happiness and employee engagement are one and the same.

In fact, overall too much time is spent on employee engagement thinking about employee happiness. On the surface there seems to be good reasons for it.

For example, studies have shown again and again that happy employees are more productive. According to a Warwick Study   , happy employees are typically 12 percent more productive than unhappy employees. Many other studies make similar claims that happiness is securely bound to productivity. 

happy employees at work. A Wharton Study    suggests that employee satisfaction results in two to three percent higher returns for shareholders. Another study suggests five times better stock performance over organizations with lower employee satisfaction. This was primarily based on a study of the 100 Best Places to Work compared to organizations that didn’t make the list.

Still    more research    indicates that organizations experience 30 percent higher customer referrals when employees are happy.   

And of course, there is the matter of employee retention. Tons of articles all touting significant increases in retention when job satisfaction is high.

Here is Where It All Goes Wrong

The issue I have with all of these studies (and many others) is that they try to create correlations that aren’t there. Mostly they try to use other words or concepts to mean the same as engagement.

The Warwick study is the exception. There is absolutely no doubt that happy employees are more productive than unhappy employees. Beyond just that one study, the evidence is overwhelming and indisputable. Higher productivity is affected by employee happiness. What you can do about it is another matter, but we’ll get to that in a minute or two.

Employee satisfaction is not the same as happiness. A person can be satisfied with their work conditions and job responsibilities and yet not be happy. Tying happiness to employee satisfaction greatly limits the scope of happiness.

Many other studies, such as the one reporting 30 percent higher customer referrals, mix engagement and happiness. As evidence of that, what the researchers did was administer an employee engagement survey to their subjects. I have written before about what a waste of timemost employee engagement surveys are. Aside from that, when the researchers wrote their conclusions they didn’t talk about engagement. They talked about happiness. Again, making the assumption that engagement and happiness are the same. They’re not. Not even close.

The result of all this is a muddying of the waters. Instead of focusing on things that really make a difference with our team or organization, we focus on making people happy. We fail dismally as a leader when we try to make everyone happy. It just can’t be done. So stop trying.

Six Secrets About Happiness

Happiness is not engagement

It actually is possible for an employee to be engaged at work and not really be happy. There is no research I could find that legitimately ties happiness to engagement. 

Let’s understand exactly what employee engagement is to understand why happiness is not the same thing. Engagement is when an employee at work is functioning with the best interests of the organization in mind. Their attitudes and actions reflect the values and goals of their team or organization. 

Woman working happily in garden. Happiness is affected outside the workplace as well as in.Just the specific scope of being happy at work concerns much more than just whether or not a person is engaged. Do they affect each other? Without a doubt. Happy employees are more likely to be engaged. Being engaged makes it easier to be happy. Yet happiness expands beyond the scope of just engagement. Or the workplace for that matter.

Happiness is Not Job Satisfaction

Again, a person can have job satisfaction and not be happy. Job Satisfaction has to do with whether you like what you do. It is affected by the particular tasks and responsibilities you have. Whether or not you are being challenged and utilizing your best skills. Co-workers, environment, managers all factor in there. You can be satisfied with your job and not necessarily be happy.

You Can’t Control Happiness

Even if all of the above was not true it wouldn’t matter. Employee engagement and happiness and job satisfaction are all one and the same. Employee engagement surveys are excellent indicators of employee happiness. So what?

What you can’t get away from is that no matter how much you know about the level of happiness in our employees you simply cannot control it. YOU CANNOT MAKE SOMEONE ELSE HAPPY, despite what all the love poems and sonnets tell you. And that’s not just in the workplace, that’s everywhere. You can no more make someone happy than you can change the past or predict the future. 

And the fact that happiness is beyond the workplace is another reason we can’t control it. Whether or not someone is happy is not just determined by work but also by their lives outside of work. Relationships, involvement, circumstances. All things that affect happiness that carries over into the workplace.

Ultimately, we cannot control the happiness of others. And here’s why.

It’s a Personal Decision

Happiness is not determined by outside factors. Happiness is a choice each individual makes.

I have known people who seemed to have everything and yet never quite seemed to be happy. By contrast, I know others who have very little and are always happy it seems. What makes them happy or not is that simply they choose to be happy. It’s cliche but that doesn’t make it any less true.

The Apostle Paul said it best when he said,

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself….I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”

What Paul is saying is that he made a conscious choice to be happy no matter what was happening to him or around him. 

Your happiness is entirely up to you. And so is theirs.

It is Not Measureable

Even IF we could control happiness, exactly how would we determine the level of happiness each person feels. Other than asking them I know of no other measurement. Apparently, no one else does either as evidenced by all the research we cited before where happiness is measured by engagement or job satisfaction or productivity. If that is all wrong (and it is) then we have no real measurement of happiness and nor do we want to.

Culture Rules

While we can’t control happiness we can create an environment more conducive to happiness. It’s not so much making them happy as it is removing reasons to be unhappy. It has to do with the culture we create in the workplace.

When you place a high priority on caring and showing employees you care. When a high value is placed on people and that is reflected in the way they are treated. When core values are clear to everyone and reinforced in your own behavior and in the behavior you expect from others.

If you put people in circumstances where their best skills are being used and challenging them to grow. When we value their input and their output. Make it so each person feels like a valuable part of the team, the organization, and it’s goals. 

Control what you can control. Create circumstances where employees are able to have higher job satisfaction and become more engaged. Give them reasons to choose to be happy.

Are you ready to be the boss everyone wants to work for? Do you want to re-engage your employees? Reduce conflict? Contact me TODAY for a free Discovery Strategy Session    and let me show you how to get started right away!
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Team Success Depends on Everyone

Chef cooking over a fire. A good chef knows how to use each ingredient for the best dish. team success.WARNING! DON’T READ THIS WHILE YOU ARE HUNGRY! There are going to be a lot of food references here but they all have a point. It leads to what it can teach us about team success.

You ever watch any of the cooking competition shows on television, like Iron Chef America? In that particular show, chef contestants are given the same set of ingredients and asked to make a meal. Not just a dish – a meal. Oftentimes, the ingredients they are given to use will seem totally mismatched with one another. Yet they are required to use each and every ingredient. They can add but they can’t subtract. A judging panel evaluates them on taste and how they incorporate everything.

Sometimes the chefs find it challenging incorporating all the ingredients into the meal. They may barely use one item and overuse another. And when that happens, they are marked down for it in the final result. The winners are usually the ones who effectively utilize each ingredient for optimum taste and contrast.

The Leader As Chef

In much the same way, as leaders we know that our greatest team success comes when we utilize everyone on the team. If we are lucky, we had a say in who exactly is on our team. We were able to hand pick them and choose them for the special talents and skills they can lend to the effort. It’s a beautiful thing when that happens.

On the other hand, more often than not we are like the Iron Chefs. We are given the team members and told to make something out of it. We might be able to add but we can’t subtract. So we have to figure out how each team member can best contribute to team goals. Our success depends on finding the right combination.

And it’s important that your team members understand that as well. The more they understand the importance of inclusion and the value of each team member, the better they can appreciate what each person brings to the table.

Potatoes and People

potato with straw hat and glasses in a pile of golden french fries. Use uniqueness for team success.Here’s a cool exercise you can use with your team or with a group of leaders to help them understand inclusion.  I learned this with leader training we use for teaching Boy Scoutsto be effective leaders. Try this sometime as a lead-in to a meeting or as an exercise in a training session.

  1. You are going to buy a bag of potatoes (or gather rocks) and call your team or company together.
  2. Hand each of them a potato (make a very solemn occasion of it.  adds to the fun!)
  3. Send everyone off by themselves for a couple of minutes and tell them to get to know their potato. They want to examine their potato and notice all of its unique characteristics. Give it a name if they wish.
  4. When they gather back, you are going to ask each of them to introduce their potato to rest of the group.  They can have a lot of fun with this – that’s all part of it. But they need to describe their potato as completely as they can, including its uniqueness.
  5. After everyone has introduced their potato to the group, collect all the potatoes back in a bag and then randomly redistribute them.  Then challenge everyone to find their unique potato.
It will be a lot of fun, but they will also learn something about Inclusion.

Using Both Diversity and Inclusion

We hear a lot about Diversity and Inclusion these days but they don’t naturally go together in most organizations.

Leaders learn to use diversity and inclusion for team success.

Diversity is all about recognizing and celebrating the differences in each of us.  No two potatoes are exactly alike; they have different shapes, different sizes, different textures and skin colors, and even the placement of the eyes. Yet each one is still a potato and still useful.

Inclusion means I can bring two or more potatoes together and even though each is a different size and shape and color; when I put them together they make a tasty meal.  With inclusion in the workplace, we take the differences in each of us; the different skills sets and strengths, different backgrounds and attitudes, and we learn how we combine them together to be most productive for the team or the organization.
Many organizations practice diversity (mostly as a public relations mandate) but don’t practice inclusion.  That’s a waste.  It’s a waste of human resources, financial resources, and time.
Why spend the money hiring and training someone you aren’t going to make an integral part of the whole? When we practice both diversity AND inclusion, then we have produced a team that is productive, effective, and profitable.

four ways to create your inclusive and productive team

  1. CONNECT WITH YOUR TEAM MEMBERS – As a leader, it’s very important that you connect with each person and get to know them well enough to understand their goals and their dreams.  What do they see as their strengths? What do they like to do? What do they don’t like to do?  Where do they see themselves fitting into the whole?  Listen carefully! A lot of times they may very well be right. For this part, it is more important to listen than to talk.
  2. IDENTIFY STRENGTHS – Start with an assessment.  There are lots of great ones out there, free and fee-based.  If you’re not sure, give me a call and I’ll help.  The important thing is you want to identify those strengths because that’s what we are looking to use.  You don’t want to worry about weaknesses except in terms of how we can complement that.
  3. BUILD A STRENGTHS-BASED TEAM – Build your team based on the strengths of each person complementing the weaknesses of other team members. This is where the real Iron Chef leader comes out of you. You may find you need additional strengths you don’t have on your team. You may find you have too much of a particular strength. Still, you have to find a way to utilize all of it for optimum team success.
  4. FOSTER CONTINUOUS GROWTH – You want to build a mindset in your team for continuous growth and improvement of their strengths.  Continuous personal growth allows them to take the strengths that they have and making them stronger.  As a result, they will be more effective for the organization and happier. Your teams are going to be more cohesive, more productive, and you are going to see the results in your bottom-line.
Trying to get started as your own Iron Chef team builder? Are you frustrated with the challenges to being a leader? Looking to move you and your team up to the next level? Schedule a free Discovery Strategy Sessionwith me TODAY!
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The Decisive Leader has impact and influence

Making a decision can seem like the world in falling down on us.Have you ever let a pending decision freeze you? You know a choice has to be made. All of the options have pros and cons associated with them. You feel like EVERYTHING is hinging on this one decision you need to make. What do you do? The decisive leader knows how to make critical decisions and acts in the best interest of the team.

It seems one of the most difficult and terrifying things we do as an individual or a leader is making decisions.  In the background is this agonizing thought that somehow the decision we make is going to send us irrevocably in the wrong direction and it will lead to disaster.  

Over time, we find that it’s just not true. There will almost always be a way to recover.

Frozen by Fear

Why do we get that way? What is it about making a decision that can seize us up? To understand that more, let’s first understand three of the decision maker types that lead to mistakes.

  1. Snap Decision-makers who take immediate action because they think they need to act quickly. They fail to explore options or gather information before making a decision. They go on initial gut instinct. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.  When it doesn’t work, it can be disastrous.
  2. Deliberative Decision-makers want to make sure they weigh all the options and have ALL the information before making a decision.  The problem is you will NEVER have all the information and often if you deliberate too long you can miss valuable opportunities. In fact, sometimes collecting too much data complicates decision making. We get “paralysis by analysis”.
  3. Never Decision-makers are ones who don’t ever make a decision. They feel the weight and importance of every decision. As mentioned earlier, they feel that everything is crucial and they fear the wrong decision. So they (often intentionally) don’t make the decision. Of course, not making a decision IS a decision and one that almost ALWAYS leads to disaster.

“Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure.”   -John Maxwell

The Decisive Leader

Cartoon of keynote speaker in 'be decisive' seminar, although speaker himself is indecisive.Being a decisive leader doesn’t always mean that you are the only one who can decide. Don’t fall into that trap! It’s what ties even the most decisive person up in knots and can lead to poor decision making.

It does mean, however, that you know when decisions need to be made and you influence having them made at the right time

The good news is that there ARE ways to make better decisions and make them faster and easier.  It will never be easy, but it can be easier.  And it starts with applying three keys.

Know your core values

Core values are the principles that determine who you are and what you are about above all else. Core values are the soul of the individual or organization. Your core values are unshakable – no matter what you will always reflect these values in everything you do.

They also help establish the non-negotiables. These are the things you will not give up or change no matter what changes around you. 

For a decisive leader, core values tell them which options to take off the table and which remain viable. If it violates a core value, it simply isn’t under consideration.

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”  –Roy Disney

Here’s a key tip on core values. If they aren’t written down somewhere, you don’t really know your core values.  You want to have them written down where you can refer to them again and again.  Another advantage of core values is discussed here.

focus on your purpose or intent

You have likely heard of the book by Simon Sinek titled Start With Why. In the book, Sinek talks about how purpose – our why – drives what we do. When we look at our options and think about only about WHAT to do, it becomes strictly a balance sheet of pros and cons. Decision making can become harder, especially when the choice on the balance sheet just doesn’t FEEL right. 

The decisive leader knows that the best option is the one that matches up with our purpose or with the outcome we intended. it may not come out on the balance sheet, but it is more in line with who we are and what we are about. 

As you look at the options of a decision, examine each as to how they match up to BOTH your core values and your intent or purpose.  If they don’t match up to both, it is probably not the best option for you.

A while back I was approached with the opportunity to do a series of training programs. The opportunity would take time to develop and deliver yet would also be a good income generator. The challenge was that it was a subject matter I am not really expert on and it wasn’t really consistent with my focus area. On the other hand, as an entrepreneur, I don’t like to turn down money making opportunities when they come along. 

I said no. While the opportunity would not compromise any of my core values, it was not consistent with my purpose. Despite the chance to generate income, it was not consistent with my purpose.

seek wise counsel

Use wise counsel, such as an inner circle, to become a more decisive leaderBefore we talk about counsel keep in mind that every decision does not necessarily need to be made by you alone. The decisive leader knows when a collaborative or delegated decision is better than a command decision.

When the decision is yours alone that does not mean that other perspectives and feedback have to be excluded. In fact, the decisive leader takes advantage of the resources available to them to make better decisions. 

This is one of the advantages of having an Inner Circle. That’s a group of people you can rely on (and often they rely on you) for being a sounding board. They should have values similar to yours. You are confident in trusting opinions. They will not be “yes men” but will hold you accountable. Share your challenges and thoughts with them. Allow them to ask you questions.  They will then give you perspective and help you consider options. THE DECISION IS STILL YOURS TO MAKE! Yet wise counsel can help guide you in making better and more confident decisions.

Coaches make a very useful part of your inner circle. My motivation and purpose is to help you be successful. Schedule a free Discovery Strategy Sessiontoday and see how I can help you. or contact me atpsimkins(at)BoldlyLead.com  .

 

 

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