What are you deleting?

Have you ever accidently deleted an important file?

Most of us have a slip of the keyboard now and again. After a moment of panic you hold our breath, search through folders and trash, recover the missing file and breathe a huge sigh of relief. However, occasionally the all-important file is gone forever. Then the stress, self-loathing and self-pity can really take over!

As a result of these experiences we are careful not to delete important information from our computers. And yet, we can also delete even more important information, that is all around us every day. We can miss what’s most important.

Psychologists believe that of 2 million bytes per second available to us through our five senses we can only handle 134 bytes per second. That’s a staggering 0.007% of the sensory information available to us. One of the ways we cope with all of this information is to delete some of it. A simple deletion is when we overlook, tune out or omit information. Have you ever arrived at the end of car trip and had no memory of the journey? Or forgotten where you left your keys?

We each process the information that is available to us in our own unique way, depending on our values, background and experiences. The problem with deleting in leadership is that we can form positions we become attached to, and our subconscious can scan for information and delete it to fit the viewpoint we have created. The result is a lack of flexibility.

So in any situation, particularly a challenging one, it’s good for senior leaders to ask the question: What am I deleting?

Often when leaders are moving at high pace, important information can be omitted in communication, reducing impact. Have you ever heard a leader say ‘Just make sure you get it done on time’? You can recover deletions by asking questions such as ‘What?’, ‘When, specifically?’ or ‘Where, precisely?.

If a direct report says, ‘I feel bad’, important information has been omitted and a good question is ‘What do you feel bad about?’.

If a peer confides, ‘They think that I am a bad presenter’, ask ‘Who thinks this?’

If your line manager says, ‘That was a really good job’, a good question is ‘What was a really good job?’

Asking simple questions recovers important information that has been deleted.

So, what are you deleting today? Not this blog, we hope!

The TOWARD team