Apr 25, 2022 2 min read

Deliberate Practice in Improving Leadership

Level up your leadership. Each edition is a 3 min read, and contains an original article summary, an actionable snippet, a set of reflection prompts, and a reading recommendation.​


Original Article Summary

In my article Deliberate Practice and Leadership Effectiveness, I explore how you can implement the well-researched and well-proven framework of deliberate practice to improve your leadership.

While the idea of deliberate practice is fairly well-known, it is not tyically associated with leadership development.

I highlight communication as one potential area of improvement using this framework.

Everyone recognizes the importance of communication in leadership. However, most of us do not have an actionable approach to it.

One way to change this is to implement a typology of conversations using the core ideas of deliberate practice.

This way, you change the vague notion of communication to something more tangible and measurable.

Bringing the notion of deliberate practice to your leadership can also be a long-term competitive advantage in your career.

Click here to read the entire article.​


Actionable Snippet

One useful conversational framework that can be implemented right away is given in the book Communication Catalyst.

Connolly and Rianoshek outline what they call three axioms that are critical in human communication.

All humans have purposes, concerns, and circumstances.

If someone perceives that you are unaware or disrespectful to their purposes, concerns, and circumstances, they will consider you a threat. And, they will actively avoid, resist, and undermine any significant threat. This creates waste.

If someone perceives that you are aware and respectful of their purposes, concerns, and circumstances, they will join you in conversation. They will share information, coinvent solutions, and move into action. This creates value.

Virtually every impasse, argument, or upset you encounter can be explained in terms of the laws.

The axioms can explain virtually every inspired result and group victory.

Their methodology and framework is well researched and well worn in thousands of engagements across hundreds of companies.

However, these axioms can come across as simplistic and common sense. And they are in fact that.

The problem is that we are not good at implementing and executing on the basics. Knowing something vs doing something are worlds apart.

In my work, most leaders are pretty good at respect. It's the awareness piece that tends to be the weakness.

We are so focussed on delivering our message, we do not have awareness of the purposes and concerns of the person on the other end. That is 80% of the game.

Their purposes, concerns, and circumstances create their version of reality which is different from yours. Their reality is as real and true to them as is yours to you.

All of us are living in separate realities. The trick is to recognize it in high stakes situations.


Reflection Questions

  • Consider a project/relationship that you are having trouble with. How aware are you of the other person's purposes, concerns, and circumstances?
  • In your last conversation that created waste, what do you think triggered it?
  • In your last conversation that created value, what do you think enabled it?
  • How can you make sure that your communication creates action and value rather than resistance and waste?
  • How can you get better at these basics?


Leader’s Library

This week’s reading recommendation is K Anders Ericcson's Harvard Business Review article titled The Making of an Expert.

If you are new to the concept of deliberate practice, this is a good start.

That wraps it up for this edition. Have a great week!

– Sheril Mathews

Sheril Mathews
After a 20 year stint in various technical/management/leadership/ positions in the wilds of corporate America I started LS to help leaders & high performers level up their game.
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