Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Overestimating our Understanding

Generally I like to keep an open mind.... a beginner's mind as they say, and have never been accused of being a 'know-it-all' but I realized recently how I have fooled myself into thinking that I understand when really I only grasped the very tinyest tip of the iceberg!! 

It can happen so innocently, with the simplest of everyday, common language.

About a year and half ago I came across a phrase, "values-based leadership" and given that I was a 7-year trained and certified coach, who places a fundamental importance on values in coaching any executive leader, I presumed that I knew what that phrase meant.  However I didn't.  I thought it meant making choices for your actions based on your values.  But I didn't grasp the full depth of implications and opportunities with this concept.

Now that I have studied this model, as a framework for building high performing, sustainably successful organizations, I see what I missed all those years... the power of the entire people system, sharing a common understanding of their shared values and behaving in alignment with those values; the courage it takes for one leader to stop allowing outside influences to push them to behave against their values; the strength in values-based decisions; the cohesion when values-based performance management takes place; and the wildly successful financial performance that's attainable in a values-driven organization.

Don't assume you understand.  Probe deeper.