Cal Newport's book, 'Deep Work' is another to add to your 'must read' list. Our addiction to distraction, constant availability and 24/7 connectivity from internet tools is significantly affecting our ability to concentrate and focus. Newport argues that "the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy". It is deep work that optimizes our learning and performance - distraction destroys depth!
Time to Think by Nancy Kline is on my 'must read' book list for leaders. These profound but practical philosophies around listening well and raising the level of thinking for your team will be a game changer in the way you lead. A few quotes to wet your appetite...
"The quality of a person's attention determines the quality of other people's thinking."
"We were fascinated to discover that when someone in your presence is trying to think, much of what you are hearing or seeing is your effect on them."
"Create a particular environment and people will think for themselves. It is that simple."
"The quality of our attention and of the incisive questions we ask can become just the way life is."
The Great Wall of China was built as a protection from the barbaric hordes of Mongolia. It was 1,500 miles long, 12-40 feet thick and 20-50 feet high - too high to climb, too thick to break through and too long to go around. In the first 100 years of the Wall's existence, China was invaded 3 times. Not once did the hordes break the wall. Each time they bribed the gatekeeper and marched through. The fatal flaw in their defense lay in spending too much money in building the wall and too little money in building the character of gatekeepers
The Heart of Godly Leadership - Allan Webb
The ultimate goal of leadership is to reproduce ourselves int the lives of our followers. Leighton Ford writes, "Leaders are those who are able to divest themselves of their power and invest it in the lives of their followers, in such a way that their followers are empowered and the leaders themselves end with the greatest power of all, the power of seeing themselves reproduced in others."
The Heart of Godly Leadership - Allan Webb
"Understanding and feeling the pressure of a situation is a fact of life, but allowing the situation to determine who you are and how you will respond is a choice."
The Art of Authenticity - Karissa Thacker
Here is a simple but very effective tool that David Rock shares in his must read book 'Quiet Leadership'.
The Choose Your Focus model has five different ways we can think about or communicate about any project. The model helps us to recognize which angle we are thinking from and then allows us to choose another way to think, or allows everyone in the conversation to be talking from the same angle. This simple model is helpful in any conversation or meeting.
- Vision: Vision thinking is about the "why" or "what." It is the big picture of what is your goal or what are you trying to achieve.
- Planning: Planning thinking is about how you are going to get there.
- Detail: Once you know where you are going and how to get there, then comes the detail of doing thinking.
- Problem: Problem thinking is the territory of events going wrong. The focus on problems.
- Drama: Is the place where things have fallen apart and all that is left is emotional charge.
As David Rock suggests, I have used this by putting it up during a meeting so that everyone can see it. Then with each agenda item stating which level we are talking at. It is easy for people to get lost in detail, but if they know it is a vision or planning conversation, the detail can wait. This is very helpful for having everyone thinking and communicating at the same level.
As David Rock wisely says "Quiet leaders are highly disciplined in their conversations. They are diligently focused on ensuring every conversation is as productive as possible every step of the way, and if it's not, they do something about this. They know that it's important to get the process of any conversation right before getting into any of the content of a dialogue".
Question: Where could you use this 'Choose Your Focus' tool in a conversation or meeting this week?