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Change in organizations is rarely easy and challenges even the best teams. Change can be wanted and expected and still it can move us swiftly into a difficult exchange among peers.
Such was the case for me during a recent sales meeting. A small group of us met virtually [ZOOM!]. Our CEO sent out an email by the Friday prior officially announcing the details of our reorganization. This meeting was the first contact since the email. The agenda shifted to questions, reactions and concerns. I brought unflagging enthusiasm and positivity to the meeting. As people shared their truth, it started to get bumpy. This surprised me. We were going to receive the opportunity to learn something new and increase our income—what’s not to like?
It was not long before one of my clarity-seeking cohorts offered up that I was being defensive. I looked at my positive, smiling countenance on the ZOOM video and I did not see a scintilla of it. I didn’t feel defensive either. I looked at all the faces on the video screen. I saw consternation and confusion. In that moment I took a long, deep pause. While I did not feel defensive, their expressions reflected to me my blind spot. My resolute, positive perspective was missing key ingredients. I wasn’t open to all possibilities and prior to that pause, I wasn’t listening with curiosity.
I looked at all the faces on the video screen. I saw consternation and confusion. In that moment I took a long, deep pause. While I did not feel defensive, their expressions reflected to me my blind spot.
If I had been in the board room with a long, oval table, I would have seen one person’s face at a time. My mind would’ve rationalized and fed me only information to keep my position intact. Technology offered me more this go round—it gave me undeniable proof it was time to shift. As I shifted to openess and curiosity, so did the conversation. We started to uncover what the group was needing to “buy in” on the changes and completed the meeting with trust and relationships restored. Afterward I sent out an email congratulating all of us for getting through some rough terrain with our dignity in place. It felt utterly transformative and the group responses all contained gratitude for my noticeable shift and seeing it all the way through.
I wouldn’t have been available to change my behavior without the learning from an experiential development course I recently took, Maximize Potential: Transform Everyday Conversation. That course taught me skills and provided me with a life-altering experience. I intend to sustain this growth and to look more deeply into how I behave in conversations. It won’t be with my judgmental critic, rather my curious, lifelong student of my own personal development. Am I practicing the skills? Am I listening, rather than merely hearing? Am I fully present? Am I perceiving on multiple levels? Am I curious about the person or people before me?
Sarah passionately and practically pursues the development of leaders through intentional, organic growth. She emboldens leaders to create an environment where management is expansive, willing to move with agility beyond comfort zones, and to champion the individual and collective genius within the organization. With teams in transition she inspires connection, realignment and forward progress within the awkward movements of the changing landscape. Her belief is that coaching is as essential an element for an organization as the product or service the company produces. “An employee who grows personally, grows professionally” and coaching seeds growth.
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