This article really resonated with me, Why Leaders Need to Broaden Their World View. Rebecca and I have talked about the seeing the big picture for years. This article referred to several new books and provides great tips for better listening! I have borrowed liberally to share. We definitely need diversity of thinking on all our teams these days.
“Author and behavioral scientist Stephen Martin spent decades studying influence. In his latest book, coauthored with Joseph Marks, Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t, and Why, Martin calls attention to just how intertwined an effective message is with its messenger. People who have important contributions to make but don’t fit your preferred messenger model are overlooked, and those who aren’t especially talented but fit your mold will have undue influence. And according to psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s latest work — featured in his Ted Talk and his book Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? — “traits trump competence almost every time. Now think about the implications for people who are not part of the dominant culture in your organization’s leadership ranks. These might include women, people of color, or introverted types. These underrepresented groups find it hard to get their view across. They are often told that what is holding them back is something about their style, such as their executive presence, their ambition, or how they show confidence. But that’s often not the case.”
“Pay attention to the types of signals that matter most to you and the team. Note them, say them out loud, and call everyone’s attention to potential preferences — shedding light on the unstated signals so everyone knows what is important.
Make an intentional effort to listen to the perspective of someone who is not like you. Ask questions, explain why you are asking, don’t dismiss the ideas immediately, and don’t let the team silence someone who communicates differently. Draw attention to what the person said, repeat it, ask questions, and show interest in the message. The team will soon follow your lead.
Look at the outcomes you want someone to achieve, and then be open to how that person might achieve those results. If you believe that a certain style or approach is essential to success, be transparent about your expectations. Give feedback, and explain why this approach matters. And don’t say anything that sounds like “Be more like me.”
Be aware that your own interests will affect the way you perceive others. Maybe you usually connect with people over sports or family interests. In that case, try to broaden your interests or at least your curiosity. And leverage your connections to help underrepresented groups create stronger networks. Talk about style and common interests with people from underrepresented groups so they will be able to make connections more easily with new contacts.
Recognize that many underrepresented groups tend to get stuck in key roles, particularly if they are experts and great executors. Ask about the reasons why people haven’t moved on, and listen to the positive qualities their answers imply. Don’t let a lack of movement signal a lack of ambition.
If you truly want different perspectives, backgrounds, and personalities on your team and in your organization, then you have to change how you listen and who you listen to.”