Shoulda Gone to Specsavers

Seeking and executing solutions to problems seems an admirable leadership trait. Now imagine if you are such a leader. So why, despite all our skills and admirable intentions, do we so often end up not with admirable solutions, but unintentionally unhelpful consequences? And what if I were to tell you that it is likely that at least 80% of your employees suffer the same consequences in their pursuit of solutions? Yep, the odds are highly likely you are running an organisation teeming with people who are being handsomely paid to frequently fail. And why, when you spot unhelpful results, the changes you and your colleagues invoke also fail to deliver the results you seek?

Do you remember the COB (Chain of Behaviour) I talked about last time? Well, the situation above is the reason the COB framework was devised. It was becoming so common for unintentionally unhelpful consequences to result from our actions that the demand for improving leadership and overall workplace performance blossomed. It had become clear that the path to growth was through raising the effectiveness of our people. Helping our people become more effective lead us to our understanding of the relationship of cognition-emotion-behaviour.

So here we will dive into the first link in the Chain of Behaviour — Cognition. When we say cognition we mean more than just seeing or witnessing in something. When we say cognition we describe a process where we observe something and then understand it more deeply by attaching meaning to what we observe. To do this well we must strip this experience of all judgement, bias, and emotion. We must train ourselves to create a direct connection between the mind and the senses, and then apply our life experience to try to find a context or understanding of what we are witnessing. And if this is a first time witnessing such a thing, we test our understanding to see if it fits.

This may seem like a cumbersome process at first, but if your train yourself, it will become second nature. If becoming a great leader is your goal, mastering the COB is a non-negotiable skill you must possess. And a truly great leader not only masters the COB, but this leader also coaches subordinates to master it as well. If you want to raise the effectiveness of your organisation it starts with you, but it does not end with you — everyone must reap the benefits of mastering the COB.

The first step is to see the world in an accurate way, so that we have something reliable to which we can surround with context, and from which we can derive meaning. We must have absolute faith in the accuracy of what we see, and the correctness of the meaning we reach from that. It is through this process, and the skills we develop within this process, that allow us to fully understand the threats and opportunities we encounter. Until we master this process, we are likely to mistake opportunities as threats and threats as opportunities.