SHHHHHHH! Why Parents, and Leaders, Need to Talk Less
As parents, we need to make some changes: When you’re rebounding for your daughter - STOP CORRECTING. When you’re playing pass with your son - STOP CRITIQUING. When you’re watching them play a game - STOP COACHING. As leaders, the same is true.
Why Should We Care?
Leadership is not a dictatorship. Just as we spend too much time with our children telling them what to do and what not to do, we spend too much time and energy trying to control things in our leadership roles professionally. That’s not what leading is meant for. Leadership is meant to empower.
Empowerment requires ownership. Why would we be empowered if we don’t have the autonomy to make our own choices? If we are constantly commanding, those we are leading will never view their actions as their own. In reality, we are creating victims, not leaders. We should always be striving to help those we lead to own their experiences. After all, it IS their experience, right? It’s about them, not us.
So, the question becomes how do we create empowerment? I’ve found one of the most important steps to be very simple. Stop talking.
Of course, there is a time for sharing expectations or relaying a message, but it’s far less than the norm. We need to allow those we lead to experience the confidence gained from choices that lead to excellence and the disappointment from those that lead to failure.
We need to talk less and listen more. Listening is our most powerful tool in leadership. It shows we care, that what they are doing is important. It lets the speaker know their thoughts, ideas, and choices have power. We don’t need to have all the answers. Even if we do have the answers, sometimes it’s better to keep them to ourselves and allow those we lead to discover them on their own. That self-discovery is the path to ownership and empowerment.
Simply consider your most important leadership role, the one in your home. Take the time to appreciate the opportunity you have with your child, and smile. Be grateful for the moment as it is. Constantly correcting, giving feedback, or barking directions robs you, and your child, of the moment. It’s as if you are saying, ‘sure I’m glad to be here, but it would be better if you did it this way. Let me fix you.’ No one needs to be fixed in those moments. It’s the time and experience that’s important. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when attempting to capitalize on the moment:
REAL TALK - Action Steps
4 Square Breathing
A short, quick way to re-center and refocus when a full meditation session isn’t possible. The routine is 1. Breath in on a 4 count, 2. Hold breath in for a 4 count, 3. Exhale breath for a 4 count, 4. Hold breath out for a 4 count. Do 3 rounds. I’ve found 4 Square Breathing to be beneficial for me individually and for teams I’ve led in athletics.
Model the Behavior
The team you lead will reflect you. I’ve seen far too many coaches over the years screaming at their players to calm down. How you say what you say is important. How you listen is important. How you show up is important. Your team is a reflection of you - good or bad. If you’re not willing to pick up trash, don’t expect your team to. If you’re not willing to work late or get in early, don’t expect them to. If you don’t expect your son to complain or make excuses …
Getting fired from your job allows you to explore new opportunities; not getting the promotion gives you a chance to reflect on the quality of your contribution to the company; missing the game winning shot provides you with a chance to model perseverance and resilience. One of our most important jobs as a leader is to help those we lead see adversity in a new light. We are going to face adversity. The better we are at simply seeing failure as a part of life rather than a constant threat, the better equipped we are to overcome them.
I love this acronym for effective listening from Julian Treasure. Receive - pay attention to the person and be present; Appreciate - give signs of acknowledgement and say ‘hmm, okay’; Summarize - say ‘so …’ to recap what was said; and Ask - ask questions after. Listen with an open mind, with the intent to understand. When we are effective listeners, we encourage others to share. The most beautiful aspect of empowerment is the relationship it creates with failure. When we are empowered, we own our failures and we search for ways to overcome them. When we impede ownership we encourage those we’re leading to make excuses for, pass blame on, and fully dismiss our failures. Help those you lead to lean into failure by listening and allowing them to be free from judgement and correction at times.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com. We would love to know how we could help!