It is understandable why many typically hard-charging, busy professionals with little patience for covering the basics have given up on common sense and instead bemoan the lack of it. However, it is foolhardy, perhaps even arrogant, to take common sense for granted.
First, it implies the existence of a common denominator on which both parties can agree.
However, in an environment where sitting U.S. Senators think they’ve beguiled the fundamentals of science, pundits perched in gated communities tweet their belief that racism is over; and less enlightened executives continue to pompously declare that their way a “no brainer” despite their detractors who counter, with ample evidence, that it is the leader who has no brain, finding common ground can seem like a heavy lift.
To do so, you must find a common purpose. It takes extra effort, but without that exertion, any agreement is contingent on luck. Common sense does not thrive by chance.
As with basic negotiation, always seek the unifying goals and work toward achieving those together.
Second, common sense assumes an equal capacity to discern.
It is unwise to predict someone’s discernment capabilities. Some people live in a black and white world, while others favor nuance. Neither viewpoint is inherently good or bad; it is situational. Just as rote learning can help facilitate the routine, critical thinking is vital for those who wish to credibly call B.S. on faulty assertions.
Supervisors who complain about wanting a staff of responsible adults and cry that they are not paid to be a babysitter only highlight their failure to have properly laid the groundwork.
Although subtle, when we separate ourselves from the problem and the solution, we weaken more than our leadership; we erode trust. If we continue rewarding those who divide to conquer, we allow less and less common to exist between us to make sense of in the first place.
The effective leader unites others and moves everyone forward with a shared sense of purpose.
Don’t give up. Lead well.
I never liked the term “emerging leader.” It’s like calling a pregnant woman an “emerging mother.” It’s clunky, vague, and rude. I accept that leadership is a continuum; however, its plot points are not based on time but effectiveness.
How do you increase your effectiveness?
Ask for feedback from a knowledgable source, process it, and then apply what’s most valuable.
Three sample questions to ask regardless of where you are on the continuum:
- How could I improve?
- What am I doing that I’m not aware of doing?
- What am I not doing that I ought to consider?
If the answers cause you to become defensive or disagreeable, you’ll get no value in return. The best way to increase your effectiveness as a leader is when you are open to discussing your strengths, weaknesses, and shortcomings.
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