Breathing Room

This week’s trek is inspired by Liz Wiseman’s research on leadership and collective intelligence.

Are you the person everyone relies on for answers?

We all have certain areas of expertise that others regularly rely on us for. Sometimes, though, our tendency to have all the answers makes it impossible for others to step up on their own.

In her research on leadership, Liz Wiseman talks about the importance of being a leader who knows when to take a back seat so other people have a chance to learn and grow. 

Introducing Your Breathing Room Exercise

What It Is
A 10-minute exercise to identify some of the ways you can take a step back and empower others to step up. 

Why We Love It 
We all enjoy being in the company of people who give us room to breathe. This exercise provides a quick way to consider how you can shift your behavior so others can grow.

How It Works
1. Identify a meeting this week where you’d like to create more space for others to contribute. 

2. Ask yourself what kind of energy you typically display in meetings. Consider how your behaviors might be preventing more junior people on your team from developing their own skills in that same area. Some examples:

  • Are you the first one to have an answer, serving to keep others from having their own point of view?
  • Are you constantly coming up with ideas, making it hard for others to formulate their own and/or identify the top priorities?
  • Are you always communicating the big picture, serving to keep others from learning how to craft a vision?
  • Are you quick to speak up and put your thoughts, reactions, and feelings out there, leaving little room for others to have a say?

3. Based on #2, consider playing a different role in your next meeting, so others have a chance to step up. Instead of offering up your ideas, try building on those of others. Or rather than providing all the answers, try asking questions to steer the group towards their own meaningful conclusions. 

4. After your meeting, reflect on how the dynamic shifted. What knowledge did you gain about your team and about yourself? What strengths can you see in team members that weren't apparent before? How might you further cultivate those strengths moving forward?

Want to dig deeper? 
Here's what your fellow trekkers have to say about past treks:

"The What's Your Tutu? trek couldn't have come at a better time. I've always had a hard time showing emotion in romantic relationships, so it's helpful for me to to check in with these questions after a date."

Beebe Xia, Copywriter and Single Lady
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Shankar Desai