How Nonverbals Help Leaders Move from Reactive into Proactive - Michael Grinder & Associates

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How Nonverbals Help Leaders Move from Reactive into Proactive

Hi, I’m Michael Grinder, reading a great article by Kirk Dando. The title I think is just terrific. “Your Problem Solving Is Killing Your Growth.”

What he basically says, and I absolutely agree with him, is we’ve got to go from being reactive leaders to being proactive leaders.

How do you do that?

Kirk certainly has suggestions, and I absolutely recommend you read his article. At the same time, I want to add the area of non-verbals to that.

Now, if I may, why do you want to be what Kirk calls a problem predictor instead of a problem solver?

That depends on what you do.

If you’re a consultant, and you walk into a company that you’ve been in before, or you’re an internal consultant, and you appear in the given department, if your reputation is that you’re a problem solver, they’ll go like this, “oh, we must be in trouble, she’s here again.” That’s a bad reputation.

If you’ve been a predictor and a preventer of problems, when you walk in they go like this, “well, I don’t know what we’re doing that we’re not seeing coming up, but she’s here now, we’re gonna be fine.”

Your reputation — you don’t want it to be as a problem solver. You want it to be as a problem predictor.

How do you go from being a reactive to a proactive leader or consultant?

Here’s an example: you’re on an airplane. You take off, and it starts to get really rocky. The pilot comes on and says, “it’s your captain speaking, we may be experiencing some turbulence.” You look at the passenger next to you and say, “yeah, right, Sherlock.”

See, what happened was you experienced the problem, and then the leader identified the problem — too late. That’s reactive.

Another example: you’re sitting on the tarmac. Before you ever take off, the pilot comes on and says, “this is your captain speaking, we may experience some turbulence for about 10 minutes and we’ll be fine.” Then you take off. Now when we start rocking, we’re okay.

You’ve got to have a voice that indicates you saw it coming before it ever occurred. And if you get in trouble, then you have to have a calm voice and say, “we’ll be okay.”

See, the real problem we have is when we become leaders, we’re trained to be very congruent. Have your nonverbals match your verbals.

Well, that’s the science of being congruent. That’s not the art.

See, if it was really the science a pilot would go like this. “Holy cow, look at that screen, we’re gonna have a mess. Wow. We’re in trouble! Hey folks, make sure you fasten your seatbelt and say a prayer!” You can’t do that as a leader.

Go on YouTube and type in “land the plane on the Hudson River.”

Listen to that voice. You’ve gotta stay calm with your nonverbals at all times.

Now back to how to prevent having to land on the Hudson River. How do you do that?

How do we teach people to go from reactive to proactive?

Let’s sit in on a meeting. There’s a concept called “after-action review.” What you do is you go back over what happened so you can figure out what were the earliest signs that something was about to unfold — that if we knew ahead of time, we could plan and prevent. That is really what you want as a proactive leader.

But they’re sitting around the table. This isn’t going to work. Let’s change this and take a different view of it.

Now, they’re standing behind their chairs. This is is a “disassociated after-action review.”

There are 2 key components to a disassociated after-action review:

  1. No eye contact.
  2. Refer by title.

So, they’re not allowed to look at each other, and that is absolutely critical.

They have to describe who sits in these four chairs by their title: CFO, HR. They have to be addressed by their department or by their position. So one person could say, “well I think when title or department did this, we learned…”

It’s disassociated, no blame, no eye contact. You are looking at the table or at the chairs.

It is so much easier to understand how to review what happened as long as it isn’t you.

Same thing in terms of yourself.

When you’re driving home at night and you’ve had a bad day and you want to understand how to recognize better it in the future. You can’t say, “I really blew it today.” You have to say your title, “the CFO really blew it today,” or your gender, “he really blew it today. She really blew it today. The boss really blew it today.”

It makes a huge, huge difference.

Now, instead of saying, “this is my two cents” I’m gonna be comical and serious at the same time. I’m going to take two dimes, or “a pair of dimes.”

It is a paradigm shift to know how to review what has happened, so you can get better at recognizing it in the future.

Why do you want to do this? Folks, because “surprise is the enemy of competence.”

Michael Grinder here, come on, invest in a paradigm shift that will make a difference in the future.

Did you find this helpful?

Transform your team members into proactive leaders with my new half-day group coaching workshop “FREEDOM THROUGH PERCEPTION.”

Contact us for more information.

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