I See Clearly Now

Guest post by S. Chris Edmonds:

I got new reading glasses this week. I can see!

It’s been four years since I got my last pair. During that
time my old readers have been scratched up, sat upon, bent, and generally
mistreated during real life around here (and on the road).

I’d gotten used to those glasses. They worked pretty
well at my computer desk but weren’t so good with my iPad – my arms just
weren’t long enough.

I finally broke down and got an eye exam this
month. The right prescription works wonders! The clarity of the written
word and images, up close and 20” away, is astounding.

Why did I wait so long?

I think I waited because I was so comfortable with my
viewpoint. My vision was “good.” I tolerated poor sight up close because I
thought that was OK.

The reality was I was missing the details. I was misreading
what was in front of me too often. If I couldn’t quite read it clearly, I made
assumptions about what it said.

I think us leaders do that all the time.

We get comfortable with our viewpoint. Our understanding of
our team environment is “OK.” We tolerate missing the details and making
assumptions because that approach has worked “OK” for us for years.

Yet our great bosses didn’t get comfortable with their
viewpoint. They used a variety of activities to stay connected to what was
really happening with their team. They observed meetings and
interactions with colleagues. They watched interactions with customers.
They held numerous two-minute check in discussions with players at all levels.

These connection and observation activities enabled our
great bosses to get reliable, valid, accurate information about how the team
was operating and how the team was performing, every day.

They sought out perspectives of many different players, even
customers and suppliers, to gain as clear and as accurate a picture of what was
happening day to day.

Our great bosses rarely assumed anything. They got up from
their desk, engaged people, and learned what was “real” from those dozens –
maybe hundreds – of conversations over time.

They knew which team members were putting in the time and
effort to move the organization forward and to serve customers effectively.
They knew which team members were not.

Our great bosses engaged us frequently to learn where our
pain points were – and they acted to reduce or remove those frustrations if
they could.

They invited our ideas about improving the workflow,
increasing efficiency, and eliminating dumb practices. They acted on those
ideas of ours that made sense.

We could see our great bosses’ efforts to ensure they were
seeing things “as they were” as opposed to how they assumed things were
operating. Their efforts to understand our reality boosted our engagement, our
service to others, and our performance.

Don’t get too comfortable with your viewpoint. Get away from your office and engage. Learn pain points and remove them where you can.

And, get an eye exam every year. I can see clearly now!

S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year career leading and managing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Since 1995, Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn how to craft workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution in Chris’ latest book, The Culture Engine. His blog, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos can be found at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Join Chris in Denver for his Culture Leadership Roundtable starting in March ’15.