Director Maynard Leigh Associates
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7 Ways to Develop Your Insight

26th Aug 2010
Director Maynard Leigh Associates
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Approximate reading time: 2.6 mins

“The next big evolution for HR is equipping itself to become an insight-driven function...”  

This latest observation from the CIPD and its current thinking will form a roundtable discussion in September where the likely focus will be on the convergence between Organisational Development and HR.

Interesting though this will doubtless be, an even more challenging issue is the extent to which insight can actually be developed.  For many people, it can seem a mystical concept. Where does it come from, how do you encourage it, what gets in the way of acquiring it?

For all its apparent mystery, every human being can use insight to improve performance--their own and others’. Not only do we all possess it, but we can also nurture and improve it. Developing insight starts with some personal basics

·         Know Yourself:  explore who am I, what impact do I have on people, how do I need to change?

·         Understand others: discover what people need, why do they do what they do, what would help them perform better?

·         See the situation: uncover what is really happening--in the office, in the company, in the market place, in the industry, with the competition, in the future? What needs to happen next?

It also involves becoming alert to what stops insight occurring. The blocks and obstacles can broadly be broken down into our assumptions, interpretations and prejudices. All three can get in the way of seeing ourselves, others and situations accurately. Instead, they can cause us to perceive reality as if through a distorted lens, making it harder to see the truth.

So developing insight for HR professionals is not simply about gathering more knowledge and expertise. It will also depend on being able to develop the ability to separate facts from interpretation.

To do this means practising the art of seeing. Seeing takes place at different levels: information, interpretation and imagination. All play a role in developing insight and provide the basis for developmental questioning, giving feedback and allowing one to check out perception against reality. 

In the Perfect Leader, we identified insight as one of the most critical aspect of being a successful leader. Here are seven practical actions to take to develop insight

  1. Value Intuition: attach more importance to the less logical, more intuitive side of your nature

  2. Personal challenges: set yourself new personal challenges around the whole area of exploring what you are feeling and thinking

  3. Find role models: find someone good at knowing what others are thinking and feeling. Spend time talking with them, reviewing recent situations and how they see them. What evidence does this other person use to draw conclusions?

  4. Analyse: next time you make a decision, talk in a meeting, or take an action, try reviewing afterwards: Why did I do that? What effect did I have? Why did that work? How could I do that well? What went wrong with what I did?

  5. Internal “cast of characters: identify your internal “cast of characters”: the achiever, the bully, the coward, the lover, the joker, the procrastinator, the doer, the enthusiast, the music lover, the sports person, the eccentric, the worrier and so on. These “characters” influence how you behave and respond to the world

  6. Widen your perspective: explore ways of expanding the channels you use for gaining information about the world around you. For example, find opportunities to take a closer look at your Views, Prejudices, Assumptions, Beliefs and Interpretations

  7. Observe: at your next meeting with several people, concentrate on being a careful observer. Use your natural powers of analysis to build a picture of Why do they do what they do? What are they feeling? What do they want? How do their words differ from their actions? What do their actions tell me? What is not being said? What is it like being that person, rather than me? Look closely at their body language--their gestures, posture, or expression

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By alisonrbcm
26th Aug 2010 14:01

Great blog Andrew.

On the Analyse piece I’d also add “what did you stop yourself from saying or doing and why”. I find that people often do know what to say or do and talk themselves out of it. It comes back to trying it out a few times and realising that the world doesn’t come to an end and in fact the insight you had worked perfectly that gives you the courage to keep sharing them when they come.

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By scholacm
31st Aug 2010 16:04

-- Schola Coaching and Mentoring

Is it not strange that just when you reach a certain point in your thinking you come across something that re afirms it or helps you dig a little deeper - thanks Andrew!

Having just finished Scott Halford's book "Be a Shortcut" I can recomend it as excellent reading, lots there about insight. Also the EQi or Emotional Intelligence work by Reuven Bar-On I think is an essential tool in developing some of the mentioned practical aspects for insight.

Now back to the reading and developing my insight!

Kevin

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