We are all in the thinking business. The value we add to the business is in our thinking. As leaders we need to actively encourage and care for our teams’ thinking. How much of your time is spent nurturing and encouraging your teams’ thinking? What can you do to shift the conversation back onto thinking rather then simply doing?
- The Thinking Conversation. Talk to your team about what they need for their own thinking to thrive. When and where do you do they do their best thinking? What inspires them? How can they build this into the way they work on a daily basis?
- Creating Thinking Time. We all need time to think and this needs to be planned. Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England recently said “My office protect me so I can have much of the morning free – so I can sit, read, think and reflect. I believe that is absolutely crucial. People who are so busy that they never get time to think won’t be able to sort out in their own minds what they are trying to achieve” In our frantic schedules it is important to schedule “Time with me” in the same way we would organize a meeting.
- Thinking is not title dependent. A great thought can come from anywhere. As leaders we need to actively demonstrate that we are interested in our teams’ thinking. We can unintentionally communicate that we are not interested. The quality of our presence communicates whether we value the other person’s thinking. Laptops and mobiles open in meetings shows you are not respecting their thinking. Notice how many meeting’s you attend when people are clearly not present. When we are fully present the quality of the person’s thinking improves. If you want to improve the quality of your team’s thinking then check in first with how you are showing up with them.
- Thinking Together. Many of us think in different ways, some by talking out loud, others need space and quiet. We need to consider how we can create environments, which facilitate these variances. Normally meetings are structured so each agenda point is openly discussed and people contribute as and when they have a point. Alternatively the discussion can be managed going round the table and giving each person an opportunity to speak uninterrupted for two minutes. I was running a training program and we were trying to get to agreement on how the course was going to be cascaded throughout the business, after an hour’s discussion we were no further forward. On the second day we took the approach of giving each person time to speak, it was resolved in fifteen minutes. In those fifteen minutes the quality of the thinking was significantly improved and we got to resolution quickly. Quality thinking saves time.
As a leader we are responsible for creating an environment, which enables our teams thinking to thrive. When we keep our attention on this then thinking thrives and our business will thrive.
Photo: Juan Rumimpunu