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When dealing with someone we don’t agree with or like or trust, most of us find our position hardens: we are less interested, less curious and often more defensive and more determined. The only outcome we’ll accept is that someone wins and that should be me. We see it with public policy – think health care, aboriginal relations, even pipelines. We see it in our neighbourhoods and families as well.

Question:

When dealing with an issue that is complex and evokes passions, how deeply do you hold on to your rightness? Do you act in “convincing” mode or “understanding” mode? To pick up one thought from Kahane’s model: how much time do you spend debating (trying to prove your point), dialoguing (working to listen to what others are saying), or presencing (trying to sense what’s happening with the situation in its entirety)? What now?

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I’ve been taking high-tech golf lessons since mid-winter. I think they’re working for me; I love the new swing. But my scores don’t show it yet. My pro has told me, “When things are going wrong on the course, don’t try to correct the error. Just go back to doing what I’ve taught you.” Good advice. For sure.

Question:

When things start going sideways in your organization, do you expend critical bandwidth looking for brand new and/or innovative solutions OR do you test what you’ve learned over the years? How can you be certain to consider the basic approaches when you come up against a challenge? Give the tried-and-true a chance; it might work… it might work sooner.

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I’ve long said you get the behaviour you tolerate. There is a hidden consequence to this… your good people don’t want to work for an organization that tolerates mediocre performance. Oh. That hurts.

Question:

Do you value strong performance in your team members? How do they know that? Is it clear you actively work to boost the performance of your mediocre players ?

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One assessment opthamologists do is the visual field test. While staring intently at a bright dot in the centre of a screen, dots of lesser intensity appear at various places around it. When you see one, you activate a clicker. If your peripheral vision is poor, it may indicate glaucoma and/or other things.

Question:

In your organization and industry, what do you sense is going on beyond the place you are focussing? What might you be missing? How will you train up your leadership peripheral vision?

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Not everyone gets ideas the same way. Some love to brainstorm and pull ideas out of thin air. Many read, research, search the web, and find what others are doing and build from what they find. Some draw or doodle or create ideas with sticks or clay. Still others look for patterns and systems and project them outward.

Question:

How do you find ideas? How do you support your people in the ways they find ideas? How much innovation has your organization missed because you didn’t embrace the variety of ways people think? Are you up for the challenge of ensuring your people feel supported in how they instinctively approach the challenges of the future?

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Having carpenter’s tools (even the best tools) does not mean someone can build a house. Likewise, training someone to read a spreadsheet does not mean he or she can build a financial plan for their department. Or, knowing how to prepare a presentation does not mean he or she can convince customers to do business with you. Sharpening people’s skills does not automatically mean they can deliver results.

Question:

Specifically, what are you doing to orient staff development to increasing effectiveness? Yes, results? Do you know what works? How? Do you know what doesn’t work? What now?