Quiet Leadership or is it Coaching your Employees?

Whilst in Italy last month I read David Rock’s book Quiet Leadership which covered transforming performance at work. If you are a business owner or manager it is a good overview on how to develop your people by changing your own style.

Knowledge on how the brain works continues to develop. We have 100 billion neurons (primary cell for the human nervous system) in our brain and many millions of neurons in our heart and gut. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to rewire itself based on where we focus our attention. The brain is highly flexible and it is never too late to learn!

We see the world as we are, not as the world is – quotation by Anais Nin. Our brain tries to make whatever we are sensing or thinking fit into our existing mental models. Changing the way people think is one of the tougher challenges of leadership as people tend to fight hard to hold on to their view of the world. When external realities change, people’s internal realities don’t change as quickly. Given that our hard hardwiring in the brain is all so different, any group of people will see the same situation from substantially different perspectives. There is a difference between a thought (a map held in our working memory) and a habit (a map that’s hardwired in the deeper parts of our brain).

I have found that managers constantly complain about the little time they have available and how they constantly have to solve people’s problems. So with a combination of better time management and a greater use of delegation, time can be made available to listen more and ensure their team member find their own solutions.

I won’t attempt to go through the book’s steps for transforming performance yet so much of it is about coaching including:

  • Attentive listening – listening as you have never listened before
  • Staying above the detail – NOT joining the tangled forest of information
  • Being succinct – thinking about the core message before speaking
  • Establishing permission before discussing difficult topics – ”would that be OK with you?”
  • Setting the contract (Rock calls it placement) takes care of the why, when, how and who of the conversation
  • Quiet leaders give less advice than almost anyone on the planet! (they don’t solve people’s problems)
  • Asking thinking questions means you are now focused on one thing; people’s thinking. If people are being paid to think, isn’t it about time we helped them improve their thinking?

If you want to change the way you lead or adapt your style of developing your employees, I recommend you buy and read Quiet Leadership. You never know, this could be one of your first steps to becoming a coach! If, on the other hand, this a step too far and you would prefer to use a listening coach, please contact neil@nvwsolutions.co.uk or have a look at my website www.nvwsolutions.co.uk

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