What do you pay attention to as a leader and how do you make time to do so on a regular basis and then “connect” what you have learned with what direction you might set later on to lead effectively. We talk, we observe, and we (hopefully) listen all day long as a leader of a group of people, but do you have a defined habit or practice of paying attention as you move forward. You’ll never know and then apply what you know within the reality of an organization to set the most productive course without purposefully paying attention.
“The job of leadership today is to see things that others don’t see. But what you see is shaped by how and where you look and listen. If you practice paying attention, you may be surprised by the insights you unearth and the creativity you unleash.” — Bill Taylor —
A few more formal ideas to practice paying attention from author, Rob Walker:
- Field Trip: Set-up for you and your leadership team to go out for a day to experience what your customers experience as well as the customers of competitors and then debrief to share what they learned and what from this collective insight you will apply within your organization.
- Swap Jobs: Coordinate with another curious peer in your industry or even another industry to switch jobs for a day or shadow one another. Some of the most creative ideas you seek or need to solve real issues are ideas that are already working elsewhere.
- Reverse Mentoring: Be mentored by a junior employee in your organization to experience what they experience. You’ll hear and see things that you couldn’t notice on your own.
The applied learning challenge is then to practically and purposefully practice paying attention. Without doing so, we would continue to merely talk, observe, and listen from only our isolated perspective.