Leaders hear many different voices. Some come from people we know and respect. Some come from strangers. And some come from our own heads. Okay, maybe more than “some.”
The voices convey a variety of things . . . complaints, input, constructive criticism, information, encouragement, feedback, etc. They never go away, and that’s okay. These voices could generate our next great ideas. They could also help us avoid big mistakes.
How do we filter the voices so we know which ones to respond to, which ones to save for later, and which ones to disregard? Have you ever asked yourself that question?
Sometimes, we filter the voices based on our relationships with particular voices. Of course, our own voices usually win because we trust them and want to believe they’re right—even though we know that is not always the case. Our close friends come in second, but their views are often skewed by their relationships with us. We tend to pick and choose from the other voices because we don’t trust them yet. But we miss important input when we repeatedly listen to the same voices. Filtering the voices based on relationships can be too subjective.
At other times, we filter the voices based on volume: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” It’s difficult to ignore the loudest voice. But that’s not wise leadership. It leaves out strategy completely.
And it’s not just relationships and volume that influence our filter. A number of other factors like our emotions, our setting, and our schedule can cause us to filter the voices certain ways. We need a consistent and objective filter. Because the voices in our lives can influence our futures and our organization’s future, it is important that we have an effective filter to process these voices.
Have you ever truly evaluated how you filter all the voices speaking to you? Most of us would have to answer no. Over the years, we have trained ourselves to trust whatever filters we’ve unintentionally created, allowing them to guide our decision-making processes. But is this wise? In a follow-up post, we will introduce a new way to filter the voices.