With the increase and improvements in technology, pilots today can feel more like computer operators than they do pilots. There is so much auto-pilot related technology in commercial airplanes that short of emergent issues, pilots can allow the computer to fly the plane. As the term autopilot gets redefined in the aeronautics industry, there is a lesson to be learned about how the term ‘autopilot’ can redefine the culture of an organization.
The lessons life teaches us about time management usually come through some very challenging circumstances. There is only so much time in the day, so many days in the week, and so many weeks in the year. With that finite time set in place, there is only so much that can be accomplished. If you want to bring something new into your life, you have to give something up to make time for that new something. I have found myself trying to learn something new. Being a lifelong learner is important to me, so this is not new. What I have recognized is that there are some areas of my work life that I thought were on autopilot and could fly by themselves.
When it comes to leading a team of individuals, there are certain things that should never be put on autopilot; arguably most leadership responsibilities should not be put on autopilot. When it comes into mentoring individuals and sowing into peoples’ lives, listening should never be on autopilot.
Ever walk into someone’s office and talk to them but get the sense they are not listening? They are looking at you, but secretly they want to pick up their phone, check email, or complete any other task on the list. As I begin to focus on something new, I find myself distracted by the new shiny toy. This distraction leads to poor listening for me.
One of my favorite words relative to leadership is intentionality. There are non-negotiable absolutes in being a great leader, and listening well is one of them. The next time someone comes in your office or cube or closet or wherever and wants your attention, if you can, drop what you are doing and listen. I physically slide away from my desk and sometimes even get up and take a different seat. When I’m in the “cockpit” of my office, it is difficult to listen. Sometimes flying the plane at work means getting up from the chair and leading well by listening well.
There are several reasons why good employees leave an organization. One of the most common reasons good employees leave is because of their relationship with their supervisor. Listening to employees leads to understanding, compassion, empathy, and engagement. Listening well will help employees feel both valued and heard.
Talk about influencing a culture — walk around a place where people feel valued and heard. It is a game changer!
[This piece was originally published on Culture Infusion, a blog created by CIOs Chris Walden and Bill Rieger. Follow their blog at @C_infusion.]
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