Have you noticed when you start planning for an event that sub consciously you start to notice different things?
Strange things start happening in your head.
Maybe you are thinking about changing your car to a bright blue Ford Ka, and all of a sudden you start to notice lots of them on the road.
I remember a while ago thinking about buying a VW Golf and wondering what colour to order. Suddenly I became aware of every Golf that I passed on the road. I was even drawn sub consciously to park next to them in supermarket car parks!
My wife was never sure about the colour I chose, but that’s another story.
I first noticed this phenomenon a long time ago when my wife was first pregnant.
Was I alone? No my wife started to notice the same thing happening to her, and all of our friends had a similar experience.
I also notice that same thing can happen with a piece of music. You notice it on the radio. Then you hear it over and over again as you move around your daily life in shops, lifts, lobbies etc.
I feel sure that my mentioning these reflections will ring a bell with you bring back your own memories of the way you suddenly become aware of things that you pay attention to. I can hear your brain whirring as you read this article.
We lead such busy lives with so much information rushing at us every second of the day that our brain helps us by filtering out millions of bits of data a second on our behalf.
This allows us to concentrate on a handful of issues in our conscious mind at any one moment.
We develop patterns of behaviour that become hardwired. In the main they help us to function effectively on a daily basis. These filters develop in to traits and fashion our values and beliefs over time. Grumpy old man syndrome springs to mind here for some reason?
We play out our daily lives without being consciously aware of the routines that run in our sub conscious.
As leaders in organisations this manifests itself in the way we conduct our behaviour in work.
As you may be aware language forms only a small part (less than 10%) of how we appear to others. Research suggests that over half of our communication comes from non-verbal signals that we give to other people.
So phrases like ‘do as I say not as I do’ ring true.
So in times when most businesses are looking to remodel to take account of a changing world it is worth stepping back to consider what impact your shadow as a leader is having upon colleagues around you.
If what you are doing isn’t working terribly well then it’s time to do something different.
After all ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.’
Change starts with you. Working upon changing your behaviours and automated responses to issues is the starting point.
What you pay attention to in your life will change the outcomes. Just like noticing the Blue Ford Ka if you change your focus of attention you can begin to work upon achieving different outcomes in life, and work.
Beware that what you think, and what you do are usually different. Equally what you say is often not what you think you have said.
The meaning of your communication is the response that you get. Remember others around you have their own patterns of behaviour and their own filters.
You visualise a Blue Ford Ka; they visualise a Green BMW Mini. You will not know what they are actually imagining unless you seek to understand their context and what they are paying attention to in the moment.
This translates into work settings too. All too often messages, programmes or projects move away from their intended course resulting in confusion, slippage, and wasted resources. Ford or BMW, blue or green?
We carry on unaware of the issue. We gave a clear message we knew what we meant. I’ve heard people say ‘It’s not my problem that they got the wrong end of the stick. It’s up to them to sort it out!’
People in the main do not wilfully go off and do the ‘wrong thing’. All behaviour has a positive intention.
As a leader the key is to explore the purpose behind someone’s action.
Better still pay attention at the start to ensure that everyone can describe a Blue Ford Ka and its intended purpose as a vehicle for change. ‘Be the change’.