The Gap Between Knowing and Doing

Morag Barrett
Author, Keynote Speaker, CEO
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Question: There are four birds sitting on a wire… two decide to fly off.  How many birds are sitting on the wire?

In our work with leaders around the world there comes a point in every workshop where the participants need to put into practice the skills and concepts they have been discussing.   An activity where participants are in groups of three, in this case one acts as the role of coach, one as the employee and one as an observer. It’s an ideal opportunity to put into practice the theory and concepts discussed during the class.  The last 2 hours of today’s program have been about the importance of making a connection, listening to the other person’s perspective, asking questions to seek more information, to better understand their point of view and then looking for solutions and a way forward.  (You may have been through a similar exercise, maybe it was about coaching skills, giving feedback, setting goals.  The focus doesn’t matter, it is the steps you go through that are the learning point.)

And in this case this was so.  We had discussed the importance of starting, not with our thoughts, but seeking out the other persons starting point.  The exercise went well.  The coaches remembered, and were able to apply the techniques in their ‘role play’, you could see the confidence of the participants grow.  We then switched to the observers.  They were now to ‘coach the coach’ and provide feedback on what had been observed, what went well, what could the person have done differently.

And that’s where everything changed.  The observers started out with something along the lines of

“Well you did this well, but I would have done this different” or “You didn’t do…”

Do you see what was missing?

Starting from the other persons perspective isn’t difficult.  They all knew that was what was where they were supposed to start, but when they weren’t aware of being in a ‘role play’ or classroom activity, the knowing was forgotten and the doing didn’t happen.

As with most things we learn in order to improve our effectiveness, to increase the value we bring, the concepts aren’t that difficult, we quickly get to ‘knowing’ the challenge is in making these new ideas into habits, ‘doing’ can be hard.

The advice? remember that life is a ‘role play’ – there is no predefined script (as much as we may wish that others would follow one!).  If you want to improve then you need to practice.  You have to decide to change how you behave, to learn new habits.

How could the observers have approached this exercise?  By starting with

“how do you think that went?” or “what would you do differently if had the opportunity”.

If you can start from the other persons perspective you will find providing ongoing feedback and support so much easier and likely to be less confrontational – for you or them.

As to our original question… there are still four birds sitting on the wire!

About Morag Barrett

Morag Barrett SkyeTeam Leadership Development

About Morag Barrett:

As a trusted advisor to executives and senior leaders across industries, Morag Barrett is able to challenge individuals and teams to achieve outstanding results. Morag founded SkyeTeam to ensure that organizations are able to deliver extraordinary results both today, and tomorrow.

With 30 years’ experience that includes senior business roles in the finance industry as well as in leadership and executive development, Morag understand the challenges of running a business, as well as the complexities of leading and managing the people that are part of that business.

Morag holds a master’s degree in Human Resource Management and received the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation. She is also a recognized business coach for the Corporate Coach University and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK.

About: The Future-Proof Workplace

The Future-Proof Workplace is a survival guide for the new realities of business. The future is no longer some far-off destination; it is here, right now, and already changing the way we work. 

Historically, the sea-changes have advanced humanity and inspired us to reach even further; from the Dark Ages to the Age of Enlightenment, from agrarian to industrial societies—and today is no different. But only those who are ready for the changes will come out thriving.

This book highlights the changes already taking place around us: the transition from skills to knowledge, the neuroscience approach to leadership and motivation, galloping technical advances, and more.

Whether you're a CEO, a leader or manager, or just trying to survive the chaos, this invaluable guide is your wake-up call—the future is now.

The new forces emerging must be understood now if your organization is to succeed. This book details the transformation every business must make to turn upheaval into opportunity.

  • Discover how emerging technologies and neuroscience research are already impacting the way we work 
  • Learn how yesterday's biases are being replaced by modern values, culture, and relationships. 
  • Consider the "heart" of your organization, and whether it can stand up to the purpose-driven paradigm of the future  

Everyone knows that changes are needed—and fast. The question is: which changes, and how? The Future-Proof Workplace maps the transformation, and gives you an itinerary for each step of the way. 

About Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships

If you have ever been blindsided by a colleagues' words or actions, or found yourself on a team that was more focused on venting about others than addressing the business issue at hand, then check out Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships.

In Cultivate, author Morag Barrett provides a simple but effective model for diagnosing the health of your relationships at work and providing steps for developing Ally relationships. 

Cultivate is not a "be nicer" message. Morag bring years of global experience, success, and practical insight that will transform your working environment. 

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About SkyeTeam:
SkyeTeam is an international leadership development consulting firm committed to ensuring that great organizations, teams and individuals succeed. With a reputation for being a true partner and trusted advisor, Skye Associates collaborates with their clients to develop and facilitate pragmatic yet high impact leadership & management development programs.

Today, our programs span the world. From Alaska to Singapore, from the USA to Hong Kong. Recent programs include high performing team and team effectiveness within the telecoms industry, leadership and management development programs for an engineering organization, a high potential leadership development program within the healthcare industry, in addition to providing executive coaching support.


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