Byron's Babbles

Hearing Every Leader

Posted in Intent Based Leadership, Leadership, Radical Candor, Turn The Ship Around by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 28, 2020

Yesterday I blogged Arguing The Value Of Our Experiences Is Futile as the result of inspiration from rereading Kim Scott’s Radical Candor: Be A Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humility. Today’s post is a result of more notes taken while reading. The phrase “listen, challenge, commit” really stuck with me for further reflection.

We need to listen to understand. We need to challenge with respect. We need to then commit ourselves to the decision and the team. If you think about, if we could always get these three things right we would have happy and engaged employees and teammates. Not to mention be successful at carrying out our missions.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

We need to listen without agreeing, disagreeing, or interrupting. Just listen intently to understand. When a culture of being able to challenge is developed, the team will always grow. This will create trust and cohesion. We need to explain objections clearly and succinctly. The challenge is about us getting it right; not about someone being right.

If everyone has fully been heard for understanding and differences sorted out, then a commitment can be reached. Everyone has been heard and understood. The important thing here is for everyone to have their voice heard and be valued.

I hear leaders talk about lack of ownership or buy-in. I’m always amazed when I hear “we now need to go get buy-in.” If you are saying that, you have already lost. Team members will be committed when their voices are heard and their ideas used. I’m also amazed at how leaders think they know better than the people closest to the day to day execution. This is what my good friend David Marquet calls “leader-leader” or “intent-based” leadership as opposed to “leader-follower” in his great book Turn The Ship Around: A True Story Of Turning Followers Into Leaders. Marquet argues that decisions need to be made where the data is created. He believes, as do I, everyone is a leader. This is why teacher led schools are so important and why I am so committed to developing teacher leaders.

If this enthuses you, you need to get his latest great book, Leadership Is Language: The Hidden Power Of What You Say And What You Don’t. Bottom line: decisions must be made where they will be executed.

I have blogged about Marquet’s work before in Everyone Is A Leader and Imagine A Place Where Everyone Is A Leader. I so respect David as a friend and great leader who has, like Kim Scott, actually practiced what what what he teaches. I consider the three books referred to in this post as must reads for everyone – since everyone is a leader. In Scott’s book she challenges using the word leadership because we say things like “leadership teams” which gives the appearance that others somehow aren’t leaders or haven’t “arrived” yet as leaders. But, if we go with everyone is a leader, we probably take care of this.

We must involve all team members in decisions, listen to each other, challenge, and then commit. If we believe everyone is a leader, then we need to let every leader be heard. This makes everyone mutually accountable. No more worrying about buy in.

Arguing The Value Of Our Experiences Is Futile!

Posted in 3D Leadership, Humble Leadership, Leadership, Ontological Humility, ontology, Radical Candor by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 27, 2020

I just finished reading one of my favorite books for the third time. If you’ve ever had one of those books that you learn something new from or discover something you missed the first times you read it, you understand where I’m coming from. The great book I’m referring to is Radical Candor: Be A Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humility by Kim Scott. I’m not sure a person shouldn’t read this book once a month, but more importantly one should put in place the lessons learned from this great book.

Something I believe separates her writing from other books in the leadership genre is how Scott shares her mistakes and missteps right along with the successes. In other words, she practiced what she preached in the writing of this book. Scott truly takes her commitment to herself as seriously as any other professional responsibility. Ironically, as I was writing this post I got a text from a school leader I am mentoring asking me to share my top five leadership books. This book will, no doubt, be on the list I suggest to her.

I have always been impressed with the ontological approach to leadership and with ontology. Much of what Scott taught us was how to form the work community necessary for each of us to “be” when answering the question of “what can we create together?”

In the book, Scott refers to “ontological humility.” The source she referenced is Fred Kofman’s book Conscious Business: How To Build Values Through Values. Ontological humility is the idea that none of us has sole claim on reality or truth. We must recognize that others have equally valid perspectives that deserve our consideration and respect. You don’t have to read very many tweets, be a part of an organizational team, or be involved in very many meetings to know ontological humility is not practiced very well in many settings. Make no mistake, it is tough to live this as a value. But, it is an important leadership trait to hone.

In fact, I try to bring ontological approaches into all leadership development gatherings I do. Additionally, it is an important part of the coaching and mentoring I do. I blogged about it in Leading With Natural Self Expression. This intuitive and natural expression that forms our leadership comes from our recognizing our experiences and the experiences of others. In education it is these experiences that enable teachers to bring real world relevance into lessons for students. Bottom line is we must understand the experiences that form our colleagues’ reality. Scott posited in the book we need to understand the past experiences of our colleagues all the way back to kindergarten.

One of my favorite quotes that I wish I knew who to credit it to is:

“To argue with someone else’s experience of reality is futile…To add their experience to yours is possibly useful.”

Read that one more time and let it sink in. Pretty deep, right? This is why the teaching of Scott in Radical Candor is so important. We must better understand ourselves, our thoughts, and our actions. Then, and only then, by understanding those on our team can we understand how to coach, mentor, provide praise, criticism, or other guidance effectively. Notice, Scott promoted guidance versus feedback. Just the term “feedback” alone, she taught us, makes us bristle. We need to care personally and challenge directly. These are the ingredients necessary for Radical Candor™️ to flourish. How well are you practicing ontological humility?