Lead to better thinking, not drinking

by | Feb 23, 2012 | Blog | 0 comments

“You do a great job of leading me to think new thoughts,” my new client observed during a pause in our meeting.

“This is so much more helpful than giving me new ideas.” And then she quickly added, “Although you do that too.”

This technique is what I call the Tom Sawyer coaching and consulting model in action, which is rooted in brain science. (See my last blog post, Build relationships, not SME, in trusted change advisor role.)

Last year, when I took the Results Coaching program through David Rock’s NeuroLeadership Group, it struck me that one of the biggest values of coaching—and consulting too–is to help others take time to think, which improves their thinking.

When you improve your thinking, you improve your results and your performance.

We often have the answers inside our heads–if we slow down, let our unconscious work and make connections. (Note that we’re talking about feasible solutions to situations we’re dealing with, not the answers to big problems such as Greece’s financial mess.)

When I help others come up with their own best answers, in a sense I’m channeling Tom Sawyer. In a nutshell, if you’re working with me whether on coaching, consulting or LEAN COMMUNICATIONS®, you’re figuratively painting the fence, getting the job done and even better, enjoying the experience.

This experience doesn’t feel like work to you because you’re delighted with the connections you’re making and the ideas you’re formulating. The ideas are often simple yet powerful ones, not even requiring that much extra work to execute.

That’s because the ideas you come up with often build on other things you’re already committed to doing (which makes them more useful than external ideas). However, since you haven’t taken the time to stop, think and reflect, you haven’t connected the dots and generated the ideas yet.

To take this metaphor further, our coaches told us that if we were working too hard in our coaching, we were working too hard. The sweet spot was to find the best way to put the client at ease, reduce external stimulus and ask thought-provoking questions—which isn’t that hard to do if you put your mind to it.

For example, I’ve learned that I can do a better job for my clients without taxing myself if we put aside all distractions and I listen very intently. I also ask permission to ask questions, especially probing ones, which puts people more at ease, which is what I learned in training.

With this process, I’m leading my clients to their thoughts…similar as you lead a horse to water. The extent to which my clients think is up to them, just as it’s up to the horse to decide whether to drink.

In both settings, there are triggers and motivation to take action. And with humans in today’s frenetic workplace, being led to think new thoughts can be more valuable than being led to get a drink.

What do you think?

By the way, we’ll be working on this in the upcoming Spring 2012 Strategic Action Group, which is now accepting applications.

Also, if you’re feeling a need to be led to better thoughts, I’d be glad to help you too!


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