“…measure your words or your words will measure you.”
Often times, we look but we don’t see. In leadership development, you need to look until you see. It calls for full-time ‘looking’. A leader must learn to look, think and see- LTS for short. Allow the mind to wander a bit although focusing on the outcomes. Always learn to see the end from the beginning or as Covey (1999 p.97) advises, begin with the end in mind.
Keeping your eye on the ball is a fulltime job. It has never been a job for the uncommitted. Understand your area. Be curious to see through the crystal ball even if it reflects contrasting lights. Learn to understand the communication process. When you do, listen with empathy. Know how to rally people around to see in the same direction. Saying what you want to say is very crucial here.
When looking, learn to listen to the sounds, including the silent noises. Silent noises are always fuelled by leader actions. They are always the elephant in the room. But if you look well and you listen well, you will think well, you will see well and thus you will communicate well. If you look and you listen, you learn to interpret voices even if they are not silent noises. If you learn to look deep at a wall, staring closely into it, you’ll surely see through it.
There’s no point enjoying speaking and getting excited for applauds when you haven’t looked and seen the situation in question. This reminds me of the first time I heard of the expression ‘laughing through your teeth’. I guess I was six, then. For some reason, I fell for that expression. Leaders must learn to spend time with problems. Look through the problem until you see the problem. Seeing the problem and understanding the issues present a solution. Change the spectacles if you cannot see through the lens.
Every part of a leader should communicate and resonate positive actions. Look at problems until they start looking at you. I mean confront problems. Sometimes it’s okay to rock the boat. When speaking, measure your words or your words will measure you. Don’t be quick to say the things you cannot do because followers will demand them at the appropriate time. Zeno hinted that it is better to trip with the feet than the tongue. When the glass bottle drops on a hard surface, manage the noise no matter how loud it smashes.
Managing sound is a skill. Controlling the wind calls for a higher skill. Cleaning up the mess calls for courage. Even when you don’t have the full support, you can still smash the ceiling if you have to. It still comes back to looking and seeing. Focus. Sometimes you can focus on the wrong things that can take a lot of energy from you. Yet don’t worry much. There’s always room for a U-turn if you are ready to learn and get things back on track. Leaders appreciate every hill and valley. The key thing is to observe all the things you see at every point of the journey.
When you want to develop the art of seeing in Leadership, don’t bother much about those who are for you and those who are not. Sometimes it’s fine to keep a small circle. Come with me and let’s argue it out. Inspired by Collin Powell’s Spiral of Experience (Hughes et al 2015), sometimes the things you see affect your perception and they make you reflect on the things you’ve seen and those you perceive. After a good reflection, you become selective of what you’ve actually seen which can ostensibly affect what you intend to see.
Good leaders will let followers see what they want them to see. All they need to do is to influence followers to look until they see. Good CEOs know that an employee with a bad attitude will make a good customer lose interest in a great company with good products, good services and the best people. With this in mind CEOs don’t stop shaping mind-sets. This is why good CEOs keep the focus.