Join Jeff Weiner for an in-depth discussion in this video Reading the room, part of On Leadership by Jeff Weiner.
- Then there's reading the room. So you've got the right people around the table. Everyone's convene, you're meeting together. What should you be on the lookout for? What does team awareness mean? Perhaps the most important thing you can do when you're with a group of people, for an individual for that matter. One of the most valuable lessons I've ever learned, is listen, with the intent to understand and not just the intent to reply. This was really powerful the first time I read this and understood this. By virtue of being so egocentric, seeing the world through our perspective, when we're in conversation, and we have information coming at us. Most of us will take that information and simply seek to rebut it, if it doesn't fit our own worldview. No, no, that's not right. Here's what's right. And so we don't really listen to learn, we don't really listen to understand, we listen to reply. I've got them, they just said that, I know that's wrong, now I'll intervene. Or, boy, I'm just going to bite my tongue here for a few moments long, I'm going to let them finish, but then I'm not going to let them have it. And maybe it's not that extreme. But if you're being honest with yourself, how often are you listening with the intent to understand and not the intent to reply? In a classroom environment's a little bit different. You're here to understand, you're here to learn. But now think of what happens when you go to meetings, think of one on ones, think of bigger group sessions, and what's your behavior like. Conversely, you should speak with the intent to be understood, and not just prove your point. And that's also a pitfall that many of us succumb to. So listen with the intent to understand not simply reply, speak with the intent to be understood, and not just prove your point. When you put yourself into that head space, it changes your energy and as a leader, it changes the energy of the room you occupy. And you will model behavior that creates more openness, and more listening, more understanding, and more compassion. And those are environments where the best opinions, the most important opinions, the most valuable opinions, the richest learning and understanding will surface and rise to the top. Very, very important. Second, this is a really important one. Just because you said it, doesn't make it so. Many, many years ago, I worked with a senior executive at a company prior to this one. And was big company, a lot of priorities. And one day he decided that we needed to be far more focused on our global orientation. And we need to start building products for global audiences, not just for singular markets. And this was going to be layered on top of all of our existing priorities, and there was a lot of stuff going on. And without really taking the right time to socialize and understand what people thought about that and understand what existing priorities would need to be displaced as a result and provide us with measurable objectives and a clear roadmap and a clear vision and set us up to be successful, he got up on stage and said, we're going to become more global in terms of how we develop products, got off stage, felt great about it and himself. Fast forward about six months later, nothing got done. Nothing changed, we were in a one on one and he said to me, what happened? And I said, after you presented that, did you spend any time with the teams in terms of actually cascading, understanding what people heard that day, how they internalized it, how it would impact them, what was in it for them and their teams? And then provided the right roadmaps and measurable goals and objectives and then got status reports and tracked it over time. And course-corrected to the extent it wasn't getting done the way it should have and seeing what was working, identify best practices, share with us, you get the point. None of that had happened, none of it. Just because he said it, wouldn't make it so, no matter how senior he was. And every senior manager, everyone responsible for other people will learn this lesson. It's just a question of how painfully you will learn it. And how quickly you will not repeat it again. Just because you said it, doesn't make it so. Regardless of who you are, how senior you are. Last, arguably the most valuable thing I've learned with regard to communication specifically, is the importance and the power of repetition. Again, it harkens back to how we all think through an egocentric lens first and foremost. If you're like me and you do public speaking, sometimes you find yourself repeating something you said prior. And whenever I do that, my knee jerk is, just going to be boring people, because it's boring to I'm saying it again. It's kind of boring. I'm a little bit bored. I'm sure they're a little bit bored. Not the case. It turns out if you want to get a message across to other people, especially large groups of people, you need to repeat yourself and repeat yourself and repeat yourself so often that you get sick of hearing yourself saying it. And only then, will people begin to internalize what you're saying. Not intuitive, is it? Not intuitive at all. And it's through the power of repetition that you can build truly scalable organizations where everyone understands what it is that's expected of them, the mission, the vision, the culture, the values and can align around these overarching objectives. Repetition, repetition, repetition, it gets you I'm doing that, I'm repeating myself. And I learned that from a guy named David Gergen. He wrote a book literally the book on communications. David Gergen was so good at what he did as a communications director to the White House and to multiple presidents. He served both Republicans and Democrats. That's how good he was. And that was a lesson he learned, working with some of the best communicators in the modern era. The importance of repetition.
Learn about the importance of maintaining awareness of yourself, your team, your industry, and the world at large. Explore the topic of synthesis, which you achieve through developing your vision and values and by focusing on the most important priorities. Plus, learn about the role of inspiration in leadership, both in terms of being true to your own values and motivating others.