Leaders judgments and lessons from the state of the union
Last night was the state of the union. While I watched it to form my own opinion, I’ve decided to withdraw from scrolling social media today. Why open the floodgates of negativity slung by leaders in both parties. Leaders, their media partners, and supporters armed to the teeth with the facts and their interpretation of them. It is their interpretation – aka the leaders’ judgments- that has our country stuck on crucial issues. Unfortunately, this impasse due to leaders judgment affects more than the government. It affects businesses around the globe.
It’s true, the position of leadership does regularly require judgment calls. However, there is a critical difference between an intuitive decision and ego-centered disapproval. One moves an organization forward while the other leaves an organization stuck. Therein lies the lesson that leaders can take from design thinking — a lesson in empathy.
Empathy – the first step in design thinking
The first step in the human-centered approach to solving problems known as design thinking is empathy. A stalemate ensues when we miss this important step. Without the first step, the path to innovation (progress) is difficult if not impossible. In a nutshell, empathy is the ability to understand thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of another. Rather than agreeing with the person we, only need to understand why they might think, feel or believe the way they do. Granted there are many blogs, books and even courses on the subject of empathy I want to offer a quick tip for shifting from judgment to empathy. And it comes with the questions we ask and emphasizing the why. Back to our political example. Here’s an example of a question in the form of judgment vs. a question in the search for understanding.
Judgment question: This question is not really a question at all but implies judgment. They already have a preconceived answer in their mind. The opposition is uneducated, unaware, uninformed or just downright stupid.
Why would they (the opposition) think like that!?!
Empathy question: Emphasis on why. Looking for understanding and reason behind why they think the way they do.
Why would they think like that?
The effective use of empathy opens communication and moves organizations forward on the path of innovation. Resulting in better people, better companies and a better country.
Are you building a team for your next innovation project? Whether you are looking for a project leader or team member with design thinking skills, Karen Zeigler is the person for the job. Email Karen to discover why design thinking is the proven strategy to move from generating ideas to the right idea and the right results.