February 06, 2019

When Leaders Judgments Leave Your Company Stuck, Get Moving Again with This Design Thinking Skill

Karen Zeigler

Karen Zeigler
Design Thinking Consultant/REVamp Success

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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.

Share your experience (comment below or Tweet @revampsuccess or both!) :

  1. How do you practice empathy as a leader in your company?
  2. What effects has your practice had on progress within your company/department?

Comments? You can contact me directly via my AdvisoryCloud profile.

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