SILENCE: FRIEND OR FOE?

An annoying habit of too many parents is the act of answering questions directed at their children. In particular, the parents who's children are old enough and capable to respond.

Likewise, leaders fall into this habit when they ask their team a question in a meeting and SILENCE falls heavy and the leader assumes the role of answering.

In both these cases we are either experiencing someone who is too accommodating or prefers the sound of their own voice. 

Whilst many leaders are following and leading the movements of collaboration, inclusiveness and mindfulness, many are not! 

We still have leaders (of adults and children) failing to provide breathing, thinking and silence spaces enabling people to build their responses and answers.

When coaching, the skill of silence can be very challenging to practise. Knowing the answer is IMMINENT, takes experience to just listen, creating the space for a thoughtful response.  

 

It's something we all experience however it takes the experienced to make it a common practice.

It's something we all experience however it takes the experienced to make it a common practice.

Silence should be your friend not your enemy.

Use silence to:

CUT TO THE CHASE -  when seeking an answer, ask the question and zip your lips. Let the other person think and be accountable for their role in the conversation

STOP THE BUSYNESS - sit for five minutes and do nothing, listen to nothing and think of nothing - it clears your head and allows you to then start to focus on what is most important

FIND A SOLUTION - often it's the quiet people who have the ideas however the noisy folk take up too much space to enable the solution to be heard

REFLECT- often the answer is held in our past. Taking time to reflect on past experiences guides us what to do or not do

ENGAGE - whilst this may sound strange, your role as a leader is to listen more than talk. Others will respect you for listening to them.

There are many powerful benefits of befriending silence. It's a tool for all leaders to hear more clearly and provide space for people to find their answer. 

There is one other benefit I have learnt from practising silence - being in tune with my body. I aim to attend the occasional yoga class and it's taken many years to see the value of lying in an awkward position in silence. I am so in tune with my body ... we are now at peace with each other - I suppose you could say we are friends!

What difference do I make?

I've just completed a program of coaching sessions with a client and my coachee's unsolicited feedback, at the end, was positively heartwarming.

As we lead others, we unconsciously go about some of our activity and don't realize the difference we make with others. 

Taking time to have conversations, following up with the odd electronic message to check their well being or progress with a challenge/issue/matter demonstrates that you care and want to see a difference in their lives.

While working with a group of people yesterday who were interested to understand how to coach others, it was unanimously agreed that leaders can and should help others reach their potential and achieve the difference in their performance.

Maybe you need to stop and think hard to answer this question: What difference do I make? It's one of many questions that we need to consider and answer as leaders.

That's OK.

The important piece of this equation is connecting with your purpose in life. Why are you here? Knowing your purpose engages you with the difference you make in others' lives.

Share this question with your team - it makes for a reflective discussion.

Check my ideas on Coaching and connect with me to discuss further.

 

What is your gut telling you?

I believe that women have an extra sense.

We've all heard that we should lead with the 'head, heart & hand' - well, I shouldn't assume you know this or do this, however I know I perform in a balanced manner if all three senses are in sync. When I observe others, I can generally pick up which senses aren't being utilised.

For women, we can leverage off our fourth sense - our gut.

We've heard, "go with your gut" many times. This is generally when we're making a decision, making a call on a matter and when balancing out the data, an extra piece of measurement is required ... our gut!

Do you use your gut? Have you been caught in a situation which limits your ability to validate or discuss with anyone the options? This is when we use our gut. 

I explain the gut as a vibe I sense. If it's free flowing - it's positive, however if it's blocked, then there is a problem. A 'yes' for flow and a 'no' for a block.

If you dig deeper and explore this subject further, you'll find that your gut relates to the amount of courage and common sense you use in your leadership. 

Courage & Common Sense 

I had to repeat these words, just like a boring politician - just in case you skimmed over the previous sentence!

If you expect your people to exhibit courage and common sense then connecting with your gut is essential. 'Coaching' your people to connect with their senses involves asking these four questions: 

  • what is your head saying?
  • how do you feel about it?
  • what is your physical behaviour doing in response to this matter?
  • what vibes are you sensing?

By asking these questions, you are encouraging your people to connect with all four senses.

What is your gut telling you right now? Can you feel the vibes? Keep trying as it takes practise if you've not focused on your gut before.

My final point is ... Men also have this gut sense. They're better at using it - they do it unconsciously. The outcome might not be fabulous - so I suggest we consciously focus on our gut. 

Which Conversation Is Necessary?

Last week, I was work-shopping 'Coaching' with a small group of leaders and a 'problem' case study was presented by a member of the group to use as an opportunity to practise their understanding of coaching and new found knowledge. We were briefed by the leader and the group/team of coaches commenced using the GROW model to uncover the purpose of the conversation goal.

After five minutes of questioning, the group realised that they were all feeling the same, challenged by the behaviour of the 'coachee' (which was being well acted); they were unable to create a space which created a dialogue . The coachee was a 'closed shop' and their behaviour was appalling and unhelpful. 

The group was stumped.

I then posed this question to the group, "Which type of conversation is necessary in this situation?"  And, is Coaching appropriate?

It was concluded that the conversation required an approach which dictated the expectations of the workplace, one which acknowledged the condoned behaviours and an agreement of the facts and the course of action required. This conversation was at the opposite end of the spectrum where coaching starts. 

We can be ineffective as leaders if we don't use our time wisely, determining the necessary conversation and the appropriate timing - rather than wasting time and that of others. The spectrum of leadership conversations is vast and ranges from:

Dialogue - to understand

Discussion - to agree or disagree based on the understanding

Decision - to chose a course of action from the agreement/disagreement

Direction - to guide movement towards achieving an action

Dictate - to confront with facts and advise the course of action

Once you've decided on the purpose of the conversation, then it's time to consider the questions and commentary to drive it. Practise makes an effective leader!