A big benefit to teaching leadership and communication workshops to adult professionals is continuous learning: every time I teach a class, new revelations come into focus.
One such “aha” moment (where one realizes something that may not have been obvious before) is that Leadership is really about learning to Respond to a situation or stimulus instead of automatically Reacting. Why is this important? Responding is the thought intensive process of actively listening, pausing, and then gathering ones “thoughts” before speaking. Gathering of one’s thoughts involves the neocortex (center) of the brain whereby we override the reptilian (instinctual) brain and the limbic (emotion-induced) brain, and hopefully create a response less prone to immediate and autonomous reactions (based on instinct or emotion).
Considering how eastern cultures (such as Japan) seem to habitually pause before asking questions at a conference or before coming to an agreement gave me “pause” to reflect on how this practice conveys power and respect – and is one often used by practised politicians at press conferences. This results in less “eating one’s premature words” and less damage control as opposed to when one speaks too hastily or without due thought.
This is a common-sense tip on how to practice better leadership in your own workplace no matter your position: remember and practice active listening (if you are thinking of what you are going to say – you are not listening!), pausing, gathering your thoughts (and perhaps even saying “please give me 15 seconds to gather my thoughts”) and then thoughtfully responding.
Food for thought – what do you think? Could this be helpful in your workplace?