Walking Alongside is more than the name of Design Group International’s new blog.
Walking Alongside is the space a process consultant occupies when they are with a client. Walking Alongside is where you listen to your client. It is where you create help with them to transform. And it is where you both learn what a vibrant future looks like and how to get there.
Walking Alongside is a new resource for leaders and the organizations they steward. In reading Walking Alongside, you will learn real stories about real people seeking to transform their organizations for a vibrant future. Walking Alongside will be written by our consultants, what we call our Community of Practice, in their voice from their experiences with clients.
As we begin Walking Alongside each other, we will take a deep dive into the twelve core competencies of process consulting (as identified by the Society for Process Consulting). These twelve competencies connect to three underlying behaviors – what we call our core values: Listening, Helping, and Learning.
Competency #1: Listening Actively and Completely – Active listening toward comprehensive comprehension is an attribute of the process consultant. It is part of their character. It is their normal posture.
Listening actively and completely refers to the kind of listening that keeps you fully engaged and in a positive manner with the conversation. This posture allows the listener to reflect back on what is being shared in your own words, driving the conversation towards clarity. In doing so, the listener must withhold
judgment (both verbally and non-verbally) on what is said or in offering any advice. By listening in this way, we seek clarity for both parties in what is communicated.
When you think about it, this is really hard to do. There are so many things that can distract us from listening actively and completely. Our phones might vibrate, we receive a text, or a thought enters our brain. Being present in this moment means that we have cleared our minds, are focused on the words that the other is using, and that our attention is on the other person and not ourselves.
This reminds me of a recent conversation with a president of a university. We talked about a recent cabinet meeting and the challenges he was facing in implementing the new strategic plan.
As we were replaying the cabinet meeting, she referred to the ‘history of the university’ on numerous occasions. She also described a component of this history in a negative light, as if it was holding the university hostage from the desired change. But somehow, this nuance of history vanished or didn’t make sense when you talked about it through the university’s current realities.
So, I said, ‘it sounds like a shadow.’ She exclaimed, ‘That’s it, exactly. Our history is always a part of us, but when we want to change and move forward, we instead turn around to check if it is aligned, and all our momentum vanishes.’
From this epiphany, we began to create a plan that honors the shadow and keeps everyone’s eyes and actions facing forward towards the change needed to implement the university’s vision.
Having someone say, ‘that’s it, exactly,’ or ‘yes, I couldn’t have said it any better myself’ is positive proof that you are listening actively and completely.
To learn more about this type of listening and how it can help you and your organization, please feel free to call, email me, or schedule a 30-minute call.
Walking alongside you,
Lon L. Swartzentruber
CEO, Design Group International
Senior Design Partner
Want to explore more on this topic? Take a look at these resources:
- Listening for Unasked Questions – Lon L. Swartzentruber
- Organizational Development Consulting: we might turn you down – Mark L. Vincent and Philip C. Bergey
- 8 Key listening comprehension skills – Listenwise blog
- Hearing with your ears, listening with your brain – Association of Psychological Science
Process Consulting competencies identified and implemented through
the Society for Process Consulting.
Tags:process consulting, Design Group International, leading organizational change, change, listening, helping, learning, Ed Schein, organizational consulting, personal change, business consulting, Walking Alongside Blog
January 6, 2021