Here’s my email to leaders in Reno County on engaging unusual voices today (7/1/13):
Today’s the final installment on “Engaging Unusual Voices.” You might remember where we’ve been as we’ve quickly surveyed the waters of this important topic: we’ve talked about why it’s important to engage them, why we don’t do it more often, and who are the usual vs. the unusual voices. Today, I hope you feel the urge to engage unusual voices in deeper ways, so we conclude very practically with some Steps on How to Engage Unusual Voices:
· Pinpoint who will be impacted by a cause or decision.
· Build a trustworthy process.
· Learn to listen differently: Come to conversations with empathy, not expertise.
· Don’t just engage unusual voices for input, engage them for decision making.
· Meet them where they are.
Again, I’m grateful for the Kansas Leadership Centerfor having this conference call last fall. And, I hope as we engage unusual voices, the effect will be a more engaged and connected community, making progress on issues we care about deeply.
With you to that end…
Here’s the email I sent to Leadership Reno County alums today on engaging unusual voices:
Recently had some plumbing problems and had to put in a catch valve in our sump pump pipe. Now, I’m not the handiest person when it comes to this, but I do understand the thought here. The catch valve insures the sump keeps making progress.
In a sense, that’s what engaging unusual voices is all about. It’s helping all kinds of people make progress on things they care about.
So, if this such a great concept, why don’t we engage unusual voices more often?
– We don’t set high enough standards for ourselves in how we connect with people and build relationships.
– It’s risky. Usual voices fear losing their status or influence.
– Fear. We gravitate toward what’s comfortable.
– Time. Engaging unusual voices requires time people are unwilling to give.
– Assumptions. Those without influence are often assumed to lack expertise.
Anytime and every time is a good time to engage unusual voices.
(taken from a Kansas Leadership Center Conference Call summary)
Today, then, engage in an act of leadership by going after the unusual voices so that you make progress on the issue you care about.
Here’s the email I wrote to Leadership Reno County alums today, entitled “Hearing Voices.”
I’m being serious. Hearing voices might seem like some metaphysical pursuit or some other kind of psychological thing-a-ma-jig. But, one of our contentions is that engaging unusual voices is a very important act of leadership. In a recent conference call, Ed O’Malley said, “Engaging unusual voices is about getting outside your comfort zone. If we don’t build capacity to experiment beyond our comfort zone, we’re less likely able to engage unusual voices.” They are important. So, we’re going to take a couple of weeks and think about this.
Why is it so important to engage unusual voices?
Answer: They see things usual voices don’t. True progress isn’t made without them.
I’ll leave it there for today. Hope you have a great week. And seek out some of those voices you don’t normally.