People Managers need to know about thinking!
This is my second blog in a series of 3, where I take a look at 3 basic psychological components which great people leaders and managers know and work with to create great teams. In Part One, I outlined the importance of the power of belief and understanding how your employee’s beliefs can influence your business.
In this part I explore thinking skills.
Wikipedia describes thinking as “Thought generally refers to any mental or intellectual activity involving an individual’s subjective consciousness. It can refer either to the act of thinking or the resulting ideas or arrangements of ideas”
Actually despite what some people think (pardon the pun), the way we think is a learned skill. Decisive thinking around interpretation of information you take in creates beliefs. The most startling and powerful effects of thinking are that firstly: thinking creates your reality and secondly: the way you think creates your energy. We can also use different ways of thinking as a skill to get things done.
Thinking creates your reality in a number of ways. What you focus on is what you experience. If you think constantly about positive things, ideas and concepts then you will feel positive, and you will perceive good and helpful people, events and situations in your life. Conversely, negative thinking can create discontent, unhappiness and even depression.
We all have experienced positive and negative thinkers haven’t we? We have people with “can do or can’t do” attitudes. We have people who see the bright side or the bleak side. In the workplace, we tend to be grateful to positive thinkers and tear our hair about negative thinkers. But how does our own thinking influence a team?
A friend of mine has an 8 year old son, he was getting into trouble at school for irritating but fairly low key behaviour, for example, shouting out in the class, digging a hole in the school garden. He was brought to task for these misdemeanours but then an insidious pattern began to emerge. As he was “punished” i.e. sent out of the class, taken to the heads office, things began to get worse. My friend suddenly began to dread picking her son up from school, as she would often be ushered into the classroom for another update about what her son had done that day.
Things came to a head when her son, told her he didn’t want to go on any longer, that he hated school and broke into tears. At a meeting with the head teacher, she found that a report was being kept, passed around teachers where any poor behaviour was being recorded, and reported to the head at the end of the week. After all the school had a strict behaviour policy. The head would then relate the misdemeanours to the young boy and wrangle a promise out of him that next week he would behave better. He never did.
My friend was horrified that the focus was on her son’s poor behaviour. After a lengthy, frank and difficult meeting with the head teacher, my friend managed to persuade him that focusing on her son’s positive behaviour would generate different results. Reluctantly and with some professional advice, the head changed tack. My friend’s son never looked back and the label and thinking around him being a “naughty boy” dropped and he became happier and brighter.
Whether you are a teacher in a class of young children or a manager of a team of adults. What you think about them is what you get. If you concentrate on what your team doesn’t do well and how they perform badly. Guess what. You are creating and strengthening that reality in your team.
I used to tell my kids off for speaking and thinking negatively. I was always aware of the energy or vibration about a person when they thought positively or not. They used to think I was weird. But now in their adult years they know that the way they think creates the energy they give out into the world.
If you think positively, openly, truthfully and generously; that energy will vibrate to everyone you meet. In the words of Buddha: “What you think you become” Mostly commonly coined “You are what you think”. Good leaders and managers know that their thinking creates their energy and that energy is what impacts their team.
We can use thinking skills to increase efficiency and improve performance too. Understanding different ways of thinking and how these can be used effectively in different situations is critical to becoming sharp, focussed and clear. When solving problems and creating new ideas, different thinking approaches broaden out and give depth to concepts and ideas.
Eduard De Bono wrote about 6 thinking hats. In summary these are:
White Hat: Focus on data, information and analysis
Red Hat: Using your Intuition focusing on how others react emotionally
Black Hat: Focus on negative aspects
Yellow Hat: Focus on positive optimistic thoughts
Green Hat: Creative thinking
Blue Hat: Process or procedural thinking
Using different thinking hats to approach a problem from all angles is a powerful way to provide breadth and depth. The trick is to be able to use and switch between types of thinking at will and that takes some skill.
When I was a middle manager, I went through a stage of being overwhelmed at times by the number of tasks, projects and problems I had to think about. I had high energy and got through a lot. But the turning point for me came when I read De Bono’s book “Teach yourself how to think”. At that point, I wasn’t terribly good at structured thinking, but I learned and my working life changed significantly for the better.
What do you think? Do you use thinking skills in the workplace? Do you and your team understand the power of focussed and positive thinking? We’d love to hear from you.
If you would like to know more, or want to claim your free consultation. Contact us by visiting www.peoplediscovery.co.uk .
Watch out for Part 3 in the next few days.
This blog is available in audio. If you don’t see the audio button below visit