Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Executive Cognition Toolbox - Tool #1 Connect the Dots


Throughout the next few weeks, I'll be sharing something called "The Executive Cognition Toolbox".  In short, these are specific skills you can develop to improve your leadership effectiveness.

What is the need?

          Have you ever noticed people often have no idea what other people are thinking when they're discussing projects?  For example, in a conversation on web-based reporting you hear someone say: “We’re going to do web reporting for all the Regions.”  Someone else at the table says, “I don’t think that’s true, Bill says we’re doing web reporting by national accounts.” Yet another person says “I heard we’re not doing web reporting because no one could make the business case.” 

          People invariably get frustrated about such things and consequently they get disillusioned.  At this point, many people would leave the conversation and walk away, but the strong executive or leader is going to get up from the table and plan a meeting to get people together and work out the “truth” about the situation.

What is the tool?

Connect the Dots through CALIBRATION


What is the benefit learning this skill?

           The benefit is intense.  People who have this skill can get multiple points of view together in one room, work out an understanding of the problem and develop resolutions to move forward. 

How do you know if you have it?

 
          You can tell if you have the tool of Connect the Dots by asking yourself the following questions:

1.   Do you take action when you see a potential communication problem?

2.   Do you take time to learn the perspective of each person at that table so you can help each get resolution to their issue?

By getting all the viewpoints into a room together, people hear what the others are saying and they get closer to a real solution.  Everyone needs to be heard, and heard EQUALLY!  That’s calibration…

Caveat – This kind of action takes more Emotional Intelligence (Goleman) than just about anything else a manager will do.  It requires excellent listening skills, facilitation skills (the master skill of leadership), and follow-up.  One must be careful to tread softly on different points of view while seeking the truth.  In other words, don’t try this at home…

 

How do you get it?

          Calibration is a complex cognitive skill.  It is almost intuitive.  It requires “sensing” when things have gone wrong, and a need to get things back on track.  But listening is the starting point.

Listening for weird quirks on an issue is the first step.  If something sounds like multiple viewpoints exist, they probably do, and that makes room for calibration.

It is a corollary to the entropy meter, which we will discuss later on.  Here again, if you have someone on your staff who can see things going wrong, and has the skill to pull people together to fix stuff, learn from them, love them and reward them.  They are critical to your success if you do NOT have this ability.

Summary Connect the dots through calibration is the cognitive skill of getting multiple universes (the space inside people’s heads) together so they can agree on a course of action.  Essentially you’re doing some social work here – you’re getting people to understand each other. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Being mindful of our limitations: Neurology in Leadership


Once upon a time, there was Myers-Briggs, and it was very good.  And there were Quality Circles, and they were very good.  And Six-Sigma and Lean Manufacturing, and Emotional Intelligence, and ... well, you get the idea. 

Now we have Neuroscience as part of our leadership toolkit.  While I applaud this effort (prophesied by no less than the great W. Edwards Deming many decades ago, btw under the term "Profound Knowledge" - check it out!) I am somewhat concerned about the brave new world of partially educated individuals who use this 'knowledge' in the service of corporations.

Before long, we will have Amygdala Hijack workshops, Hippocampus Campuses, and Cortex confabulation seminars. 

As my old man used to say, "You know enough to be dangerous."

So here's my gentle caution to the practitioners "I am not my Amygdala."  "I am not my Cerebral Cortex."  I am a person who expresses himself through these elements, but they are not me. 

Let's be careful as this new knowledge unfurls it's flag across our globe. 

The Butterfly Effect in Organizational Communication

The Butterfly Effect in Organizational Communication

Small things can have powerful effects.