You may recall my recent epiphany around listening (Give in to it 05 September 2015). It was a story shared from my coaching perspective: well, you’d expect a good coach to be able to hear what you’re saying, and to listen well, wouldn’t you?
Listening as a stand-alone skill, is way up there on my list of coaching talents. But listening is part of a wider skillset that if achieved can make us even more fabulous as a leader than we already are: it’s something I call forward-focus.
Forward-focus is what you do when you truly understand . . . no, more than that, it’s what you do when you truly believe . . . that there are times when you should be consciously focused on someone else. And in doing so, feeling entirely comfortable that you don’t have to talk about yourself.
When I’m being a coach, I wouldn’t expect to talk much about me – and it’s probably fair to say that I know much more about my clients than they do about me. It wouldn’t do for me to be all me, me, me in our meetings together. And I’m more than comfortable with that. (Remember, I’ve had an epiphany about listening!)
And there are moments when a leader simply must share more than a little of themselves with people in their team, with peers, and with more senior leaders, in order to connect in a way that builds and sustains relationships.
So, remembering that as leaders we absolutely must connect with the people we work with, how important is it to ensure that sometimes the focus is only on them: that we’re facing forward and making our time spent with them their time, not me time?
Well, it’s not important.
If the notion of forward-focus is new to you . . . and yes, admitting this to yourself might be a tad painful (but shhh, no one else needs to know; let’s keep this between the two of us for now), close your eyes and imagine what it feels like to have someone give you their attention, for a leader to be forward-focused on you. What are you feeling?
- Listened to?
Feels pretty good, doesn’t it? Now, think ahead, and connect the dots . . . how good do you think someone on your team might feel when you do that for them?
So . . . the moment of truth you might be dreading . . . if I asked the people you lead if you were forward-focused – sometimes, at the right times, when it matters – what do you think they would say?
If you believe that in being forward-focused you’ll have to let go of a focus on self that is uncomfortable for you, then leadership might not be for you.
But if you can embrace the idea of forward-focus, and start to believe that holding back a little – sometimes a lot – when the moment is right, you might become one of the best leaders anyone’s ever worked for.
Forward-focus is another powerful tool in your leadership repertoire; it can transform others . . . and it might even change you.