Learning to Listen, Not Listening to Speak Next

What if active listening is really just the baseline level of acceptable listening rather than the ultimate destination point? What if, instead of us viewing active listening as something to achieve, we look at it as more of a basic expectation upon which we build and grow?

There are at least three levels of listening that can be layered on top of active listening.

1. Respecting

This might be closest to what’s typically referred to as active listening. We hear what’s being said, understand its intent, and respond accordingly. This is productive, respectful listening. This bears all the hallmarks of active listening. We’re engaged, there’s eye contact, we’re not interrupting, and so on.

2. Empathizing

Now don’t skip this one because you’ve heard this word tossed around all the time. It’s not nearly as simple as we make it out to be. “I know how you feel” isn’t empathy. “Walking a mile in someone’s shoes” isn’t empathy. It may often be more akin to the pretending we chatted about before. Resist the urge to speed past this. When my professor first explained what empathy actually is, it knocked me completely on my – how do the French say it? – derriere.

As he explained it, empathy involves “reflecting and experiencing other people’s feelings and states of being through a quality of presence that has the consequence of their seeing themselves with more clarity,” even without any words being spoken. Do you get how huge that is?

View the situation from the other’s point of view. What do they want, whether it’s been plainly stated or not? What are they feeling? Not what would I be feeling if I were them – what are they feeling?

We also strive to hear the intention behind the content with sincerity and respect. Empathizing enables us to respond by facilitating the other person’s intention (a response is not a defensive reaction). We do this by attempting to see the big picture and respond with the idea of maintaining a long-term relationship within which we can serve and care about the other.

3. Generative Listening

Generative listening is sophisticated listening; it is active, inventive listening that evokes the best qualities in others by creating the other’s brilliance. This is what Robert Greenleaf – essentially the father of the modern servant leadership movement – was referring to when he said that “people grow taller when you listen to them.

Generative listening is a creative act. You become a finely tuned receiver that picks up what currently is, and also what wants to be, communicated. Ideas and solutions that you hadn’t considered before may simply emerge, at least in part, because your stubbornness and ego are in check. By letting go of preconceptions and biases; you’re able to sit patiently in the “not knowing,” unthreatened by differences of opinion. This allows the act of listening to birth something truly original and worthwhile.

The notion of silence is another aspect of generative listening some refer to as generative silence. Some find silence awkward or oppressive, but a relaxed approach to dialogue will include the welcoming of some silence. It is often a devastating – but very important – question to ask ourselves: If I say what’s running through my head, will I really improve on the silence?

So, you see, when we begin to listen in these ways, our listening becomes so much more than simply “good communication.” It becomes a vehicle to serving the other. It evolves into a way we help others grow taller.

Read more from Matt here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Monge

Matt Monge

Matt is a cancer survivor who’s dead set on making the world a better place by helping organizations be better places to work. He’s currently Chief Culture Officer at Mazuma Credit Union, and also does speaking and consulting work to help other organizations with culture, development, recruiting, and leadership. He has been recognized as one of Credit Union Times’ “Trailblazers 40 Below,” and has spoken at national conferences for CUNA and NAFCU in addition to other events. He has written articles for Training magazine, the Credit Union Times, the Credit Union Executives Society, is a contributor for CU Insight, and an editor for CU Water Cooler. He is also a Training magazine Top 125 Award winner. Matt is earning his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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Ministry Branding and Culture: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Your church’s culture is the combined effect of the interacting thoughts, values, thoughts, attitudes, and actions that define the life of your church. At the same time, your church probably pumps out communications all day long but misses the opportunity to constantly reflect and reinforce its vision.

Have you ever considered the fact that your culture and your brand are actually two sides of the same coin?

In her post titled What’s Keeping Your Company Culture Intact and Thriving?, Laura McKnight suggests that organizations should “[make] the most of your team’s desire to do good.” Comments like that get my inner philosophy nerd all excited because they point to this idea that I’ve mentioned a time or twelve on this site. Organizations, culture, leadership, engagement, etc–they’re all about helping all parties involved become more appropriately human.

As humans, there are things we naturally want to do. You’ll notice I didn’t say we naturally always do them; but we have aspirations, at least much of the time, of being kind to our fellow man and so on. It would make sense, then, that organizations would live and lead in light of that understanding. If organizations are indeed clumps of humans working and living life together for the bulk of their waking hours, why wouldn’t you want to integrate doing good into your organization’s way of life? Organizations are literally habitats for humans, after all.

These humans, these folks next to you and me at the office, if given the opportunity, would likely want to help out their fellow man somehow. I mean, we see it inside the organization all the time, don’t we? Or at least when we’re working the way we all want to work we see it, right? We see someone who needs help, so we help them. We see someone struggling, so we come alongside, put our arm around them, and try to assist. This is that desire to do good that Laura was mentioning in her post. So why wouldn’t we, as organizations and leaders, employ proactive strategies to turn that desire inside-out?

For regular readers of this site, this idea isn’t anything new. I’ve said the same thing about marketing for a long time. It all comes back to culture.

If culture is who you are–your organization’s identity–then it becomes a matter of living it internally and then figuring out compelling ways to help others connect with it externally.

That’s why branding and culture are two sides of the same coin.

So why not stoke the flames that might be smoldering inside your team? Why not give them even more opportunity to do what they were wired to do in a sense? As organizations and leaders, let’s proactively provide chances for our folks to do good, both inside and outside the walls of the organization.

Read more from Matt here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Monge

Matt Monge

Matt is a cancer survivor who’s dead set on making the world a better place by helping organizations be better places to work. He’s currently Chief Culture Officer at Mazuma Credit Union, and also does speaking and consulting work to help other organizations with culture, development, recruiting, and leadership. He has been recognized as one of Credit Union Times’ “Trailblazers 40 Below,” and has spoken at national conferences for CUNA and NAFCU in addition to other events. He has written articles for Training magazine, the Credit Union Times, the Credit Union Executives Society, is a contributor for CU Insight, and an editor for CU Water Cooler. He is also a Training magazine Top 125 Award winner. Matt is earning his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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7 Ways to Adjust How Your Ministry Teams Work Together

Different than a bureaucracy, an adhocracy is a theory of organizational management within which functions, groups, and structures within organizations cut across traditionally defined lines and defy standard bureaucratic constructs. At the risk of sounding like I’m describing organizational anarchy (I’m not), it’s a philosophy that has some pretty attractive-sounding tenets, at least when those tenets are reasonably applied to certain scenarios.

An adhocracy is most assuredly a textbook example of the old easier-said-than-done adage, and just like almost any organizational theory, it has its weaknesses. And just like any idea, it’s going to be neither universally applicable nor universally successful. This model won’t work in every organization, industry, or situation; but will probably work more often than we think and in more situations than we think.

What’s this adhocracy look like? Perhaps it would be helpful to think of them as being similar to cross-departmental project teams or task forces. Or like organizational Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Or better yet–Voltron. Or something. OK, I don’t think any of those really captures the idea well, but an adhocracy has some of the below attributes:

1. People at multiple levels of the organization are empowered to make meaningful decisions.

2. No, really. They actually mean #1 above.

3. Instead of innovators being patronized or ideas being crushed, leaders value innovation over standardization, and therefore it’s more prevalent, encouraged, and rewarded. Creative confidence is built.

4. In an adhocracy, people are more OK with the gray. Folks are flipping out if authority roles aren’t as clearly defined. Find people who specialize in things, give them the information and connections they need to do their thing, and then grab some popcorn and a soda and get the heck out of the way. It’s amazing what people can do when we get out of their way.

5. On the whole, it’s well-suited to problem-solving and innovating. If that’s the sort of environment you’re going for, maybe you should give some of this a look. If you prefer having very clearly-defined authority structures where power originates more from position in hierarchy than from something else; and if your organization and/or industry is more well-suited to a methodical, measured, conservative, reactive, traditional business model; I wouldn’t suggest incorporating elements of an adhocracy.

6. Members of the organization have authority within their respective areas of specialization to make decisions and take action. This one’s tough. It means we have to let go. We don’t get to control everything. We need to trust our folks enough to let them do their thing. Often, the best thing we can do as leaders is create space for our folks to do what they’re good at and then–as I said above–get out of the way. Let them work, collaborate, and make things happen. Be there to support, advise, and roll up your sleeves and help; but not to dictate.

7. The structure itself is very organic in nature, meaning that it is very free-flowing, loose, constantly evolving, etc. I’ve said it so many times that I’m sure you’re annoyed, but organizations are clumps of humans, and since that’s the case, we need to embrace the fact that we’re all flawed, unique, weird-in-our-own-way people. So knowing that, why not roll with it more? Heck–why not harness it and take advantage of the fact that humans have this amazing ability to adapt, create, collaborate, progress, perform, grow, learn, and propel themselves and the collective forward.

Like I said, I don’t think the adhocracy is for everyone, but it may be that your team could unlock and unleash some hidden potential by employing one or more of the above adhoc-ish (I know, I know–that’s not a real word) ideas with your teammates. Or maybe there’s a particular project coming up that might lend itself to being successfully completed via an adhocracy.

So think about it. How might you be able to adjust how your team works together? What new forms or structures or constructs could potentially be tweaked in such a way that it produces new and better outcomes?

Read more from Matt here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Monge

Matt Monge

Matt is a cancer survivor who’s dead set on making the world a better place by helping organizations be better places to work. He’s currently Chief Culture Officer at Mazuma Credit Union, and also does speaking and consulting work to help other organizations with culture, development, recruiting, and leadership. He has been recognized as one of Credit Union Times’ “Trailblazers 40 Below,” and has spoken at national conferences for CUNA and NAFCU in addition to other events. He has written articles for Training magazine, the Credit Union Times, the Credit Union Executives Society, is a contributor for CU Insight, and an editor for CU Water Cooler. He is also a Training magazine Top 125 Award winner. Matt is earning his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Reasons Your Change Effort Lacks Urgency

Leading change is difficult work. Helping walk an organization through a transformation effort is a complex thing. There are lots of moving parts and a variety of ways the change could go sideways on you as you navigate it. One of those potential potholes on the path toward a desired change is when a leadership team, as well as the rest of the organization, lack a real sense of urgency about the change.

This urgency is really important, because any change effort or organizational shift requires the proactive, passionate, commitment of a lot of people and groups. While the urgency may have its genesis with just one or two folks who are the initial catalysts and proponents of the change, it eventually needs to be felt on a larger scale.

There could be a number of reasons that the urgency just isn’t there. Here are a few I’ve seen or heard about most often.

1. Leadership can underestimate how difficult it’s going to be to convince folks to rally around the change. Even though a change may make perfect sense in your mind, and perhaps even the minds of your leadership team, it may not resonate the same way with others across the organization. Others may think things are just fine the way they are, or perhaps they’d agree with you that a change is needed but think your solution is off base. There could be any number of reasons some people aren’t convinced (like lack of trust, for example), but it’s almost always going to be harder than you think.

2. Leadership thinks they’re better off or further along than they really are. Sometimes leaders are under the impression that things “aren’t that bad,” or that the organization is much closer to the desired state than it actually is. Again, this happens for any number of reasons. One possibility is that it can be difficult for leaders to say something needs to change, because that can feel an awful lot like you’re admitting that you might not have gotten everything right to this point. (Why else would you need to change?) It’s almost a tacit admission that you’re not perfect.

3. Leadership can be impatient. Change can be, and usually is, a lengthy process. Culture doesn’t shift overnight, or in a few weeks, or even in a couple of months. If leaders aren’t in it for the long haul, and don’t have the patient focus necessary, they can become distracted and move on to other things.

4. Leadership becomes overwhelmed by the possibility of failure and freezes up. This is related to the analysis paralysis we hear so much about. There are so many things that could potentially go wrong during a shift that it can be easy to feel like the best thing to do is nothing at all.

Do you sense a lack of urgency on your team? Is there a change effort within your organization that just seems to be stalled? Perhaps it’s because of one or more of the factors mentioned above.

Have you seen these in action? What happened? How’d you overcome it?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Monge

Matt Monge

Matt is a cancer survivor who’s dead set on making the world a better place by helping organizations be better places to work. He’s currently Chief Culture Officer at Mazuma Credit Union, and also does speaking and consulting work to help other organizations with culture, development, recruiting, and leadership. He has been recognized as one of Credit Union Times’ “Trailblazers 40 Below,” and has spoken at national conferences for CUNA and NAFCU in addition to other events. He has written articles for Training magazine, the Credit Union Times, the Credit Union Executives Society, is a contributor for CU Insight, and an editor for CU Water Cooler. He is also a Training magazine Top 125 Award winner. Matt is earning his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Win Your Team Again

Let’s assume for a minute that you’ve been putting some of the foundational, building-block things in place to foster and support healthy culture (things like clarifying the values, making sure teammates understand them, aligning recruiting and hiring strategies with them, etc). You could almost kind of think of these things as a framework. You’re trying to create the conditions within which healthy culture is more likely to happen.

But meaningful change isn’t just a mechanical thing that happens if we publish values and align our “stuff” around them. Those things help set the stage, but we have to find ways to help our people align around them.

And while I don’t think many of us would deny the need for that sort of stuff, and while it appears that in many organizations most managers and execs will nod and smile when asked if they’d prefer a great workplace environment; it’s important that we understand that just having the framework in place won’t automatically produce the things we all want to see in our respective organizations.

We can talk all we want about having an engaged workplace (or being more efficient, or having better training, or whatever), and we can even really want an engaged workplace (or those other things); but until we—meaning you, me, and every other manager or leader—start doing things as individual leaders to create that environment with our teams, it’s not going to happen across the organization.

So I think we—myself definitely included—need to take a look at what we’re doing to win our Team members. If we’ve got bitter Team members, we’ve got to do the uncomfortable work of admitting that we may have played at least some part in that; and then we need to put that vulnerability into practice. Find out what has them feeling what they feel (whether you feel like it’s fair that they feel that or not).

If we have folks that seem unhappy or that aren’t jiving with the culture stuff, we’ve got to dig in and figure out why that’s the case and what we can do to help them. It’s easier just to shrug our shoulders and wait for them to either get miserable enough that they leave or for them to work themselves all the way through the disciplinary process. But we can’t adopt that mindset. Will that stuff happen? Sure–it happens everywhere. But our goal has to be first to win them. We should take losing them personally.

The thing is—and whether it’s fair or not—much of this really does fall on what’s commonly referred to as “middle management.” That’s our branch and/or department managers. It’s those managers who generally have the widest reach, given that they likely have the lion’s share of the employees reporting to them. That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s where much of the day-to-day interactions are going to happen. That’s where much of that magic happens if we’re doing it right. That’s not at all to say that that’s where all the responsibility lies. Not at all. But that is usually the front line.

So we’ve got to step up and own culture in our respective areas. We’ve got to take it personally in a sense. If we’ve got folks struggling in some way (like we all do), we’ve got to figure out how to help them. How to win trust. How to earn respect. How to work through the layers of resistance that have been formed over the months and years.

For example, say you’ve got people coming in late left and right and over and over again for months and months. Maybe you need to ask them why they’re not excited to get to work. Ask yourself why they’re not excited to get to work. How did they get to the point where they felt like it was OK to do that over and over again? Tardiness is just one random thing; it could be a bad attitude, sub par performance,  or some other thing.

It’s a big and tough responsibility, but that’s what we all signed up for when we accepted positions of leadership. We don’t get to just sit back and wait for change to happen on its own. We have to do what it takes to make it happen.

No team’s going to ever get the culture stuff down perfectly, but we can be consistently on the right trajectory. What we can’t do is let stuff snowball for days, weeks, months, and years. When that happens is when you’ll see an organization that’s had the same culture issues in the same spots for years. We’ll all have rough patches—no doubt. But it’s about what we’re doing with our teams when we’re in one of those patches.

It’s on all of us. We’ve got to win them.

Read more from Matt here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Monge

Matt Monge

Matt is a cancer survivor who’s dead set on making the world a better place by helping organizations be better places to work. He’s currently Chief Culture Officer at Mazuma Credit Union, and also does speaking and consulting work to help other organizations with culture, development, recruiting, and leadership. He has been recognized as one of Credit Union Times’ “Trailblazers 40 Below,” and has spoken at national conferences for CUNA and NAFCU in addition to other events. He has written articles for Training magazine, the Credit Union Times, the Credit Union Executives Society, is a contributor for CU Insight, and an editor for CU Water Cooler. He is also a Training magazine Top 125 Award winner. Matt is earning his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.