Category Archives: Choice

Taking Stock: Three Critical Elements

Crucial to growth as a leader is a comprehensive process of personal stock-taking, an ongoing discipline of objectively looking at our actions and beliefs and considering the effect they have on the individuals and systems around us.

Though such reflection encompasses many constituent elements, three seem to be of particular importance: knowledge, choice, and perception.

For any given question, we must first ask ourselves how our below-the-line beliefs stand up against the accumulated body of knowledge about what contributes to or detracts from productive interactions. If our beliefs contradict that knowledge base, we will need to begin a process of honest reevaluation and reframing.

If our beliefs match the knowledge base, the issue then becomes one of choice. Is our belief a theory-in-use that is reflected in our day-to-day choices? Or is it merely an espoused theory that begins and ends in words alone? These are crucial questions, for only to the extent that our beliefs are realized through conscious choices do our organizations benefit from them.

The perceptions of others can then be seen as the culmination of the knowledge we consult and the choices we make. All of us mistake espoused theories for theories-in-use at times. The people around us, however, see only the actions that stem from our theories-in-use. Their perceptions therefore provide an important view of our behavior as it really is, not we think or hope or would like it to be.

This three-part stock-taking this requires discipline. Testing familiar beliefs against tried-and-true principles, examining and reexamining choices to ensure they reflect that knowledge base, and comparing personal perceptions with the views of others demands effort and exertion.

But just as few of us would consider driving an eighteen-wheeler on a busy interstate without side view mirrors, could we any more effectively rise to the complexities of leading a modern organization with no conscious mechanism of reflection?

This is a question that might well give every leader pause for thought.

The Wake of Leadership

Employee ownership, commitment, loyalty and initiative are key to any outstanding organization.  But astute leaders know that such qualities are too important to be left to chance. They must be woven into the fabric of workplace functioning. They must, in other words, be made a part of organizational culture. Take a moment to think about… Continue Reading

Choice: The Work/Home Connection

Organizations struggle not only because leaders don’t know what choices to make, but also because they simply don’t make the choices that they know are the most productive and constructive. This is an issue that lies at the heart of leadership. But it also affects our relationships with those outside the workplace.  Time and again… Continue Reading

An Act of Mindfulness, An Act of Will

Leaders often feel handcuffed by circumstances beyond their control. And in many ways they are powerless to prevent or alter such externalities. But while leaders may have limited choice over what happens to them, they have almost unlimited control over how they respond. We all, whatever our role or title, live in a world filled… Continue Reading

The Primacy of Choice

We previously explored the human knowledge base and its importance to building effective human systems. Unfortunately, knowing something isn’t the same as acting on that knowledge. Any roomful of leaders can rattle off a long list of characteristics that define outstanding organizations. The systems headed by those leaders, however, will often fail to manifest the… Continue Reading

Mental Models That Inhibit the Recognition of Employees

Recognition of and appreciation for the efforts of employees is central to a culture of engagement, ownership and commitment. The success of such initiatives, however, depends on more than questions of how, when, and in what venue. Leaders’ efforts at offering recognition are shaped — and potentially limited — by a host of below-the-line mental… Continue Reading

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