Monday, June 03, 2013

Leaders, Listen First!

Here's some great advice for leaders from Deborah Triant, CEO and President of Check Point Software Technologies.  She tells Fast Company:

Making and implementing decisions boils down to a key ingredient: listening. I often wonder why schools emphasize debating. Why not have listening classes as well? Debating is easy; listening with an open mind is not. The worst thing that you as a leader can do in the decision-making process is to voice your opinion before anyone else can. No matter how open and honest your people are, stating your opinion first will short-change the discussion process and taint what you hear later. I've learned this the hard way.

I agree with Triant.  In my work, I have argued that leaders who state their positions firmly at the outset of a decision-making process can affect their teams adversely in three different ways

  1. Decision Framing Effect:   You may trap your team into one way (your way) of thinking about a problem or issue.
  2.  Conformity Effect:  You may discourage those team members with a dissenting view from expressing their ideas, options, or feedback. 
  3. Legitimacy Effect:  You may create the impression that the decision has already been made, that the process of consultation is simply a facade since the choice is a fait accompli.

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