In recent client planning sessions, I've noticed a troubling trend: many leaders don't listen. Oh don't get me wrong, the leaders hear words. They hear the initial few words uttered by one or two planning team members, but they don't grasp the members' intended messages. Why? It's not because the team members don't speak clearly and it's not because the team members don't know what they're talking about. It's because the leaders aren't listening.
The leaders aren't listening to the team member's current message. Instead, the leaders' minds have jumped ahead and are anticipating the direction the team members' similar messages have taken in the past - and they've not been ones liked by the leaders. Therefore, anticipating more of the same, I'm seeing leaders interrupting their team members, stepping on the members' comments, and negating the members' ideas almost before the team members have finished speaking.
Needless to say, unchecked, the leaders' behavior can change the tone of the brainstorming or planning sessions and quickly transform them from open, energetic, idea-generating sessions, to subdued conversations with limited input and overwhelming tension. So yes I do my job of "checking" the behavior of the leaders and all team members to maintain an interactive environment.
However, most team meetings don't have an outside facilitator serving as referee and discussion leader. Therefore, leaders, it's up to you to gauge how your biases may be enhancing or hindering your team's planning sessions. Are your biases overshadowing ideas that could propel your organization forward? Are your biases towards individual team members causing you to not listen to their concerns or ideas? Are your biases causing you to block messages that could transform the way you, your team and your entire organization operate?
Are your biases blocking your leadership duties?
Besides, if you have a team member or members who have historically had so many bad ideas or are so disruptive that you immediately tune them out, why are they still working for you?
Copyright MMXII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about me on LinkedIn!