Setting Ego Aside in Discovery
You may know by now that I am a huuuge music fan. I have recently been made aware of this podcast called Song Exploder (www.songexploder.net) where artists breakdown their songwriting process. It’s amazing to see how much work and thought is put against creating music.
One of the first episodes I listened to was with Jeff Tweedy, from the band Wilco. Wilco is a band that has been pushing the boundaries of alternative music for over 20 years. Fun fact, Wilco was the first concert I attended in the US after leaving Brazil to go to Michigan State. I was excited to hear about Tweedy’s music making process and was pleased to find that his approach is very similar to what we should be doing as leaders.
Here is how the episode begins:
“Most days I do not come into the studio with an idea for a song. Most days I come to the studio with this interest in discovery, or idea that I can’t wait to hear what is going to happen today. I just start making sound and try and follow where it leads, without trying to lead it, too much. My ultimate goal is to get out of the way as much as possible. The joy of it is the discovery.”
– Jeff Tweedy, Wilco.
I immediately connected this to coaching and leadership. When it comes to working with our clients or direct reports how many times do we approach conversations with a solution in mind? How many times are we working to lead the conversation instead of allowing for a discovery to emerge?
When we do that, a couple of things happen.
First, we fail to engage those we are working with. When we are partnering with someone, that can be a fatal flaw. The whole idea of a partnership, of a team, is to allow for collaboration so that the most appropriate solution will come forward. When we let our egos take control and start directing without discovery, we are dismissing our partner’s voice.
Second, we miss out on the opportunity to find a more appropriate solution. A breakthrough. One that will work for THAT person. The whole goal behind leadership and coaching is not to have people follow your lead, but to allow for something greater to come out of your discussions. Together.
“I just trust that some meaning will come out of this process and that something I wanna say is going to be harder to conceal when I get my ego out of the way and I am not trying to direct all meaning”.
– Jeff Tweedy, Wilco
As leaders and coaches, we need to trust our process. We need to allow for self-discovery. We need to put our egos aside and not try to direct all solutions. When we judge, fail to listen, and dismiss others opinion we are not trusting the process. Ideally, the process will take you to where you need to be. Even if it is more work and it takes longer.
“I trust the process a lot more than I trust myself to present something honest, and vulnerable, and real.”
– Jeff Tweedy, Wilco
Ask good questions. Listen. Give your people space. Clean your filter. Allow for the coaching process to guide you to the solution needed, not the one that will make you right. Let your people drive the agenda. Empower them. Empower the process.
If you do those things then you will come up with not only better solutions, but you will have empowered your partner’s voice. It is a win-win. At the end of it, I am sure you will feel like I sometimes do. How Tweedy does:
When you get to the end of a process like this, and it works the way you trust that it will work, then yeah, you sit back and go how did I do that? And you have made yourself feel something somehow… You didn’t start with the feeling, you discovered a feeling.
- Jeff Tweedy, Wilco.
Don’t start with your solutions in mind. Allow for a discovered solution.
Andre Mello is a coach and has a hard time beating down his ginormous ego. Andre has been in leadership and coaching for over 10 years. If you would like to connect with him, please visit www.wysecoaching.com.