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One of my colleagues recently reminded me the importance of objectivity when assessing a situation.

Objectivity invites seeing the full situation for what it is versus jumping to conclusions and judging the issue as right or wrong. Objectivity allows us to bring in a broader perspective of the situation.

So I was shocked to hear my colleague, who recently took a new job, speak so disparagingly of his new company. It wasn’t the glowing report I had expected.

Instead, he went on and on about the incompetence of his fellow associates and how the organization’s approach was all wrong. Clearly, it would take, months if not years to whip them into shape.

Could my colleague be hastily transferring his expectations and standards leaving little room for seeing the other side of the story? And could this cloud his actions going forward?

The natural inclination when assessing a new situation is to get the lay of the land. We begin to compare and contrast the current situation with our history of experiences. Our barometer tries to calibrate right from wrong. Unfortunately, in this journey, our questions and comments can sound hypercritical and accusatory to others when we come from a place of judging versus with the intent of objectivity in trying to collect all the pertinent information.

My friend would be better off curtailing his negativity and start asking exploratory questions to engage others in dialogue thus creating a safe environment where others can share their insights. This way he could work collaboratively to uncover the factors that led the organization to operate in this fashion. In the end, he may find that what the company is doing is not wrong, it’s just different from how he would approach the situation.

There are bound to be differences. It’s easy to criticize but harder to find the workable solution and help others make the change. If he could seek out discussions as opportunities to learn, then he could become part of the solution which takes an understanding of what is currently being done and to find out why people work the way they do.

What advice would I give my friend…

  • Keep an open mind while seeking input from all avenues to get a 360 view of the situation
  • Ask open ended questions to get others talking
  • Listen with an intent to learn versus judge
  • Reframe comments that could shut down the conversation

The intent is to find the best solution, not to disenfranchise those who do the real work.

Balance your views and share what’s working as well as what needs to be changed. Too much negative feedback feels like criticism if it’s not delivered properly. People stop listening so there is the lost opportunity for any signs of improvement.

How you look at diverse ideas and concepts will shape how your fellow leaders approach differences. Encourage people to use the diversity of thinking to their advantage. Find ways to stimulate creativity so that it’s acceptable to voice different opinions before converging on a workable solution. Pay tribute to and leverage the strengths of the organization to build a solid foundation for the future.

It’s up to you, as the new leader, to create a safe environment for people to share ideas and give direct leadership feedback to you. People will want to follow you if you can demonstrate credibility and value. As people see they can count on you, trust builds. Your encouragement to surface different ideas and opinions will open the opportunity for growth.