I was talking to a CEO this morning about his challenges with his COO, with his employees, with his board. He’s been running the firm very successfully for almost ten years, despite having never expected to be in his role. The firm is in a strong market and is poised to grow. And yet he sees that there are times where he has neither the patience nor the empathy to connect with his senior team.
Like many of us, he often comes to a meeting with his mind made up. He listens to rebut, rather than to understand. And he is beginning to see how it is hurting him, and could limit what he wants to build over the next few years.
We talked about that awkward place between where you know you have something you want to change about yourself, and actually being able to change it. And we came up with an experiment.
For one week, he will go into meetings without an opinion. Or at least without stating one.
I assured him that he only needed to leave his opinion by the door, that he could have it back as soon as the meeting ended. But his goal was to truly understand what others are telling him. And to be open to changing his mind if he got new information.
In uncertain times, the leaders with the best information get the best results.
Our people have to feel safe to tell us the truth. And in my experience, nothing feels safer than genuine curiosity.
While he knows this will be a challenge for him, he knows it’s a first step to becoming the inclusive and inspiring leader he wants to be.
To begin the path of change for himself.
And maybe his people, too.