Posts Tagged 'Judgments'

Who would admit to having no integrity?

How many of you have come across organisations where one of the company values or leadership values is integrity?

And even if you haven’t explicitly seen this as a value, would you agree that it is often an unstated principle that people will act with integrity?

So how can it be that criticism often comes when the organisation or the leaders within it appear to lack integrity. Do people go out of their way to act without integrity or does conflict occur when one persons version of integrity is different to another?

A couple of definitions of integrity may help to answer this question…………

Integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions
or
The adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

With these definitions it seems that the interpretation of integrity is therefore dependent on each persons map of the world, their own values and their own moral compass. Therefore, when someone is seen to act without integrity, have they really or is it that our version of integrity doesn’t match theirs?

Let’s take as an example the recent actions of Greg Smith, the guy who distributed his view of the Goldman Sachs culture and leadership. Did he or did he not act with integrity? I suspect that some people would say that he absolutely did, that he was honest, truthful and accurate (see definition) whilst others may question his reasons for doing it and question his moral character.

When integrity is so often a characteristic that is highlighted as essential for leaders I question if this is realistic. Surely it means that we must all operate with the same version of what is right and wrong, the same version of what is morally acceptable, the same version of what honesty is.

I wonder therefore, when integrity is put up as a value or principle and when it is seen as an essential part of leadership what is actually meant? Obviously organisations want people to act within a moral framework that is appropriate for that particular organisation, does this need to be defined more clearly so people understand what integrity means in that particular environment? Is acting with integrity the same in every organisation or might it vary if say you work in the tobacco industry, the armed forces, social services, financial services or retail?

It seems that organisations need to dig deeper to interpret integrity more clearly. What thoughts do you have on whether or not integrity can vary and how it can be defined more clearly in different organisations?

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Making an Ass of U and Me

Do you ever have those AHA moments? Those moments when something becomes so obvious to you and you want to kick yourself for not realising it before hand. Do these moments come when you realise that you have made assumptions and may be the assumption is wrong – or does this just happen to me?

Over the last few weeks or so I’ve been registering some of the assumptions that I and those around me have made.

There was the occasion when I assumed that the person I was talking with would remember a conversation we’d had 3 years ago – it took me a while to realise they didn’t.

The time when I was pitching for some work and the potential client had assumed that I would do the work for an almost non-existent budget and I’d assumed they knew what the market rate would be.

And there have been numerous times at home where I’ve made decision based on assumptions about what would be OK for my partner only to realise later that a conversation would have been useful.

At some point after assumptions have been made, it’s dawned on me that assuming really is making an Ass of U and Me. The implications of this can be pretty intense with relationships suffering and time being wasted. When we make assumptions it tends to be due to laziness – laziness in our thinking and laziness in our communication.

It seems to me that a few simple techniques, once remembered will make a big difference and reduce the amount of time spent going up dark alleyways.

The techniques to embed are:

Ask yourself what assumptions you are making and whether or not they are reasonable – for instance, I assumed that the potential client would be paying market rates and should have checked this with them much earlier in our conversations than I did as we both invested considerable time in our discussions before we reached this point. It turned out that our assumptions didn’t match.

Ask questions to clarify, check and inform – I so easily could have asked the ex colleague whether or not they remembered us talking about on-boarding several years ago, before diving in to the conversation. This would have brought us to the same place at the start of the conversation.

Be clear about the assumptions you are making – it’s sometimes worth stating up front what assumptions you are making. If we go back to my communication mishap I made a number of assumptions and it would have been more productive to state some of these upfront to check if the group were OK with them.

What assumptions have you made that have got in the way, led to conversations stumbling or led to you and others going in different directions. I’m assuming we all do this or is it just me?

Owning up to a communication mishap

Week after week I share my views on ways to communicate effectively, build relationships and work through change situations. On occasions what I say seems to resonate with the people who I talk to, who come along to a training program and read my blogs. Yet last week I had a sobering experience – under pressure, in a room full of people I froze and went in to a free fall half hour of hell.

To give a bit of context, without having to relive the whole embarrassing situation again; I was in a situation where I was under extreme pressure to perform, with people in the room making judgments about my every move and every word. I started the session feeling well prepared with a certain level of nervousness; I told myself this was a good thing and was ready to go. Things changed just a few minutes before my session started when the lead in the group told me what they were hoping to get from the session. For a minute this threw me as it was different to the things I’d prepared, but I drew on some of the things I tell others and thought I would manage the changes OK.

How wrong I was.

Free fall began……..

I realised within a few minutes of starting the session that I wasn’t connecting with the group and from there it went downhill. With my facilitator/ presenter voices babbling away to me in my head I became tongue-tied, I panicked and I lost my focus.

It’s been a long time since this has happened to me so,as you’d expect, I took time out afterwards to think about what happened and what I would do differently. The first thing I realised was that this particular situation triggered a memory for me from an experience I’d had 20 years ago – it was almost as though I reverted back to the way I handled the original situation and I lost everything I’ve learnt since.

The second thing I realised was that I needed to listen to the voices in my head and my instincts. My facilitator/ presenter voices were telling me to:

– Slow down and breath

– Make it very clear upfront about the purpose for the session and why we are covering the topic

– Make it very clear upfront how the session will work

– Bring out concerns and questions and involve the group early

– And when things seem to be going astray, stop and involve the group in what now needs to change

On this occasion I didn’t have the courage to stop when I knew things weren’t going well. My learning from this experience is that stopping couldn’t have resulted in a worse outcome than the one I had, so I should have done it.

The good news from this experience is that I now have a refreshed and more acute awareness of some of the barriers that come up for people when it comes to talking in groups, presenting or facilitating. I’m also confident that the points above really would have made a difference so practicing this myself and helping others to get these pieces right will provide a great starting point for future coaching and training sessions.

Communicating involves so much more than words

Walking through the streets of Sydney CBD I started to look at what and how people were communicating as they were going about their business. Given my comments in my recent blog about “What do leaders look like” I settled my eyes on people to see what they were communicating. I did this without eavesdropping on any conversations.

Often we think that we communicate only when we open our mouths to speak. In fact there are so many other ways we say things.

An obvious one is what we wear. There are certain uniforms that we put on to fit the situation we’re in: a common sight in the CBD is the suit, an immediate statement that communicates I’m a business person. If you see someone wearing a suit who has added in something different – a bright tie, crazy socks or a yellow jacket, then these additions also communicate something and from this we make a judgement. Your judgement about the wacky socks may be different to mine, it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that the style, the colour and the materials communicate information to us.

Think how different your thinking is when you observe someone wearing a sports shirt in the colour of a particular team. Again those clothes communicate something to you and this will vary depending on your views about the particular team.

Beyond clothes there are other things that communicate. I remember a boss I had who use to comment on the way people walk along the street. He would assess whether or not he would employ people by the way they walked. Ok this wasn’t the cleanest of recruitment policies, it did however give some useful indicators about the individuals attitude, energy level and drive.

The handshake is another aspect of body language that communicates. Personally, the limp handed shake creates an immediate negative response for me. This could be different for you.

There are other aspects of appearance that also communicate:the accessories you carry and the way you carry them, the shoes you wear, your hair style, colour, cleanliness, demeanor and attitude.

Adding in to the communication mix are the expressions on your face. Walking through the CBD the expression I noticed most was one of concentration or possibly distraction. A few had smiles on their face and others appeared sad or angry – was this really what they were feeling or my interpretation?

There are two main points from this: firstly, it is worth considering what you are communicating by the way you look and act. Secondly, question yourself about the judgements and assumptions you make about others based on what you think they are communicating. Only by having a conversation and asking questions can we really find out about people and gather useful and real information about them.