The story is told of a golfer who had been playing so bad that he went to see a psychiatrist who told him to relax by playing a round of golf without the ball. “Do everything you normally would do, but use an imaginary ball,” advised the psychiatrist.
The round went well and as he approached the 18th hole, he met another golfer playing the same way. They decided to play the last hole together and bet $10 on the outcome. The first golfer swung at his imaginary ball and announced that it had gone 280 yards right down the middle of the fairway.
The second golfer matched his drive. The first man took out his 5-iron and after swinging at his imaginary ball, exclaimed, “Look at that shot! It went right over the pin and the reverse spin brought it right back into the hole. I win!” “No you don’t,” said the second golfer, “you hit my ball.”
Your perceptions go a long way in determining what and how you think. But can you always trust those perceptions? Sadly, and much too often, in many organizations there is the proverbial “us vs. them” mentality that exists. And too often we are more concerned about being heard than understood.
So here are five questions that I believe are fitting for leaders to ask and answer. They can set you on a course of better communication and understanding that will make you a more effective leader and create a better work environment.
What do I see?
What you see taking place in your organization is a perspective unique to you as the leader. Of course you will have a better understanding and answer the more you are out among your people. What do you see taking place? Do you see your people with all the tools they need to be their best? Do you see collaboration and camaraderie? What are the strengths of the organization and what are the weaknesses? Who are your heavy-lifters and who are your slackers?
What do I know?
What do my people see?
What do my people know (that I should)?
How can we come together?
It’s time to put an end to the “Us vs. Them” mentality and the walls and isolation it creates. You best build and grow your organization when you build and grow it together. What you have to do is figure out the best and most practical way for you and your people to come together, get to know one another, build relationships, share information, and work together for a brighter future. Good leaders will do this. It’s time to ask, answer, and listen.
Are you game?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at ddickerson@ lasvegastribune.com.