Walking The Talk

WALKING THE TALK

Walking The Talk
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Walking the Talk

It is amazing at how often aspects of life come around in cycles. The walking meeting, which is now starting to make more traction in the business world, is no different.

In an Inspiring Great Leaders (previously active CEO) Podcast interview with former Sport Australia CEO, Kate Palmer, we talked about how she utilises walking meetings and the importance of encouraging her staff to do the same. Kate takes incorporating movement with meetings a step further by sitting on an exercise bike, which she recently placed in her office, and riding while on conference calls. She is also considering putting a second bike in her office, to encourage visitors to join her for a ride when having a face-to-face meeting.

Some of the world’s most influential people, such as Aristotle, Beethoven and Queen Elizabeth I, have used the tool to great effect. Now it is common for CEO’s and leaders of some of the world’s most high profile companies such as LinkedIn and Facebook to make walking meetings a daily habit.

Studies are demonstrating that exercise, including walking, alters our brain by stimulating the growth of new brain cells, improving its plasticity and even protecting the brain from cognitive impairment.

Your mind is no different to the muscles in your body. If you stress a muscle, it will become fatigued and therefore lead to a reduction in performance. You then rest or deploy recovery strategies, the muscle recovers and physiological processes occur which allow your performance to improve to a new level. The brain works in the same way when it is stimulated, with new brain cells forming and an increase in cognitive function occurring when you give it a rest, allowing you to think clearer and open up more creative ideas and solutions to come to fruition.

There are the health benefits of fresh air (depending on what location you are in), getting the body moving, and the mental relaxation that tends to occur when we are surrounded by nature and a change in scenery. Walking allows the brain to reduce lingering doubt and procrastination that tends to occur when remaining in a single location while completing work.

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Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

It has also been shown that positive influences on our mental function and cognitive ability occur when our bodies are moving. Going for a walk has been noted to release beneficial hormones such as endorphins so we feel better and more alert, while also encouraging creativity and inspiration.

A 2017 Stanford University study found that walking encouraged divergent thinking. The increase in divergent thinking occurred no matter whether the exercise occurred prior to or during thinking through a question, problem or puzzle they faced. The activity of walking or other exercise triggers greater creativity, and therefore patterns of ideas that come to mind.

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Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Anecdotal evidence has found that honest exchanges between people are more productive when walking than when people are sitting. It is believed that walking enables barriers are reduced between supervisors and subordinates, enhancing employee engagement. It is thought that walking side-by-side relates more to peer-to-peer, therefore removing some of the hierarchical barriers than can occur when sitting across from each other, when having discussions.

If you want to enhance the effectiveness of your walking meetings, try incorporating some fun and choosing a change in scenery, stick to small groups of two to four people, avoid going near cafes or food stands, and reduce the element of surprise by giving your colleagues some lead time on having a walking meeting.

RESOURCES:

Clayton, R., Thomas, C., & Smothers, J. (2015). How to do Walking Meetings Right. Harvard Business Review, August 2015. link

Malleret, T., Maxwell, C. (2018). Enhance Decision Making and Problem Solving by Walking. Wharton Business School, Sep 2018. link

Oppezzo, M., & Schwartz, D. L. (2014). Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(4), 1142-1152.

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HOW CURIOUS ARE YOU?

HOW CURIOUS?

Every leader faces a period of time where their company or team is moving along smoothly, but everyone feels a bit flat and lacking enthusiasm. It is important that you create an environment where there are constant sparks of energy in the workplace and that is where curiosity becomes invaluable.

Before we delve into ways you can enhance curiosity, here are some example questions that you can ask yourself or your team every day:

  • What is the one service, product, project, idea or topic you are curious about today?
  • What is the one thing you thought about today that you want to know more about?
  • How does that work?
  • Why do we keep finding ourselves in the same position?
  • What would happen if we changed one thing?
  • How can we make it simpler?
  • If I were the end consumer, would I find it easy to use?
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Photo by Jonas Verstuyft on Unsplash

HOW CURIOUS ARE YOU?

The easiest way to influence your employees and team members, is to model the behaviours you desire. If you are always quick to answer or lack asking questions, you are showcasing a leader who lacks curiosity. For you to succeed as a leader you need to showcase your inner curiosity, as we all know we don’t have all the answers and solutions, as good questions will lead to even more questions.

People tend to shy away from asking questions due to a fear of being judged unintelligent, indecisive and somewhat incompetent. Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking they are supposed to know and provide all the answers. Recognising what we don’t know and cant do, sends a powerful message to those around us and may even motivate them to explore and learn more. Remember, there is always time for questions, as you may ask the one question that prevents the company or team from failing.

Try asking your employees and team members questions such as:

  • How can I make your job easier?
  • If you were leading the company, what is the one thing you would change?
  • Tell me one thing that will allow our consumers and clients to enjoy a greater experience?

The answers to these types of questions will inform you how to approach what changes are required and how to prioritise them. We need to find solutions to the gaps in our knowledge and also continue to identify what other questions still require answers.

Employees will be quick to read between the lines when you don’t know the answer. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when you don’t know the answer, as this emphasizes the value of continuing to learn and explore.

People tend to like leaders more when they ask questions. It helps build trust, develops more meaningful relationships and leads to more creative outcomes. Asking questions about ideas leads to people thinking more deeply, approach it from another viewpoint and continue striving for an answer to the challenge puzzles we are faced with.

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Photo by Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash

EXPLORE, BROADEN AND LEARN

Do you provide your employees and team members the time and opportunities to explore their interests, other roles or just play? Allowing them to broaden their horizons and perspectives can lead to greater productivity, efficiency and performance. As Gail Jackson once said, “It’s better to train and have them leave than not to train and have them stay.”

When a company faces challenging circumstances, they tend to focus on KPI’s, results and the dreaded HR restructure. They shrink the capacity and capability of the company to identify what the root of the cause is and what solutions will allow them to re-right the ship.

Stimulating a mindset where learning leads to performance outcomes, allows employees to be better problem-solvers, acquire more diverse skillsets and produce better work. Redefine your work environment by focusing on goals that improve competence, acquire new skills and develop mastery. Those who focus on learning versus performance goals tend to be more successful and have greater levels of motivation.

Questioning is only as beneficial as the support and reward that are provided. Develop intervention’s that stimulate and accelerate curiosity, such as invention sessions, creativity walls, internal TEDx type workshops or question of the day. Seeking diverse solutions and answers will allow your employees to interact and communicate more effectively. Be curious about your employees work and the way teams do their business.

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

HIRE THE CURIOUS ONES

Look for people who possess the intellectual curiosity to explore, collaborate with others and ask great questions. The curious ones tend to perform better than specialists who stick to themselves and block out the noise. If you want to unearth a real gem then hire people who possess both the empathy to listen thoughtfully and challenge themselves by looking at approaches, decisions or puzzles from a different persons perspective.

When interviewing potential employees it is valuable to discover whether they talk about the success and support of other people when discussing projects, whether successful or not. It is important to understand whether they enjoy collaborating and do they see the benefits of partnering with people, teams or other companies with projects in the future.

Does the potential employee:

  • ask questions about other areas of the company?
  • show fascination in learning news ideas, identifying what they don’t know and going beyond their comfort zone?
  • listen, read and watch topics and interests outside of their specialisation and industry?
  • seem a bit quirky, on another planet, awkward or different from the rest of the pack?
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Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

START WITH WHY

Each day ask a few ‘why’s’ about the work you and your team are doing. Think about how you will utilise the answers to enhance your work and challenge the status quo.

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Beyond The Comfort Zone Link
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Why Curiosity Is So Important

WHY CURIOSITY IS SO IMPORTANT

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Why CURIOSITY IS SO IMPORTANT

By Craig Johns

Curiosity leads to breakthrough discoveries and remarkable inventions. So why do we see companies stifling curiosity in the workplace?

It is normal for humans to seek new information and experiences. By cultivating curiosity and the promotion of exploring novel possibilities throughout a company, employees will think deeper and more rationally about decisions.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. 

ALBERT EINSTEIN

If we step back in time, when we were a child, we had an insatiable need to explore and understand the world around us. We were not afraid to challenge the status quo by asking lots of questions, tasting things we probably shouldn’t or doing something for the first time, without the worry of whether we were wrong or offending anyone.

As we grew older we become more self-conscious, try to appear more confident and show that we know what we are doing. By the time we arrive as adults, our curiosity is quite suppressed as fear of being judged and not living up to other people’s expectations creeps in.

The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.”

UNKNOWN

Curiosity leads to creativity and innovation, which is important for you and your company to adapt to uncertain market conditions and external pressures. It creates an environment that inspires employees to improve their collaborative relationships, trust and more respect of their leader.

Leaders can fall into the trap of thinking that curiosity will increase risk and inefficiency. They stumble with the conundrum faced between the now and the future. How do we meet budget, sales targets, membership numbers and deadlines, when we know that we need to allow time where employees have the freedom to create new products, services, processes and business lines?

“Curiosity, especially intellectual inquisitiveness, is what separates the truly alive with those who are merely going through the motions. 

TOM ROBBINS

Finding the balance of exploration versus efficiency is an important component of a leader. Employees, who are under pressure to complete tasks quickly, tend to avoid asking questions about how they can improve their output and enhance the possible outcomes. When we question the status quo, we may not always produce useful information or solutions, but we also may prevent a decision being made that is catastrophic for your role and your company.

We perform better when we are curious because we view the tough situations more creatively. High performing employees, who are curious, seek more information from their colleagues, which helps improve the work that they do. They perform better because information is openly shared and they listen more carefully. New ideas are created, job satisfaction is improved, motivation increases and innovation flourishes as curiosity leads to a high performance environment.

“Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward opening up new doors and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity leads us down new paths. 

WALT DISNEY

The power of solving problems together and looking at suitable alternatives, brings teams closer together. It allows employees to step into another employees shoes, look at it from another perspective and allows them to work together in a more effective manner.

How will you spark new ideas, rather than killing the flame, today?

DOWNLOAD

To learn more about proactively planning your recovery and scheduling your energy, please DOWNLOAD the Break the CEO Code Whitepaper

READ MORE ARTICLES

Beyond The Comfort Zone Link
High Performers Cultivate More Powerful Traits Link
Are You Living Link
People Are Our Greatest Assets Link
It’s All About Trust Link
Are You Leading A High Performing Culture? Link
Are Leaders Born? Link

LEARN MORE

active CEO COACHING
active CEO CORPORATE
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