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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

Make Room for “The Processor”!



My husband has recently joined a leadership coaching group. It is a cohort of 50 physicians working together to learn and explore many aspects of wellness, perspective, and leadership. Hearing his reflections today resonated and I want to share them with you. Hans is a physician and a “processor”, translated, this means he is primarily driven by and understands tangible outcomes, he also is a measurable linear thinker so conceptual ideas that are rooted in intuition, perception, and feeling take time to integrate and absorb.

I on the other hand am a fast processor and spend most of my mental energy reimagining and developing strategies to think differently, alternative ways to approach scenarios, and study the nuances of people in an effort to better understand and connect. Many times our worlds collide and the details he sees I miss and vice versa.

So how does this relate to leadership and coaching?

As conscious intentional leaders, we spend a lot of time thinking. Thinking about people, strategy, and approach. Conceptualizing ideas and scenarios occupies much of our time and energy. When you share your thoughts with the team it is often met with wide and glazed eyes. Not because the concept is poor, it may be because the team needs to process, this concept is new and they have not had time to digest the information and allow it to percolate.

So how do you bridge this gap to transfer knowledge and ideas?

  • Slow down. Leadership change and the introduction of new ways of thinking and experiencing ideas take time. What seems obvious to you may seem very foreign to others.

  • Slow your speech and tone. Break the concepts down into small bites with many real-world examples. The tendency is to not recognize and appreciate the complexity of the concept since you are ten steps ahead of everyone else. The team needs time to process and experience how this concept benefits them.

  • The integration of new ideas takes time and consistency. Integrate ways to keep these concepts at the forefront of their mind. This could be accomplished by sending out daily quotes, weekly writing, anything that asks for gentle accountability to keep attention on the new ideas. Research shows enthusiasm and focus dissipates after 7-10 days so keep the pressure on!

  • Celebrate and allow for “thinking time”. In a recent podcast, Dave Stachowiak, Coaching for Leaders, interviewed Juliet Funt. She is a brilliant advisor and speaks about the important but lost art of taking time to think. We have become a culture of doers, yet research shows that some of the best ideas and creative thoughts come when we quiet our minds, walk away from work, and slow our bodies. Investing in quiet, unburdened time will result in greater success and productivity.

For all you linear thinkers out there, think about Newton and Einstein, their brilliant success and novel theories came from dreams and quiet observation of the phenomenon. Creativity and curiosity were the fundamental elements that drove enormous success, not longer days doing equations.

  • Support the processor. It is not uncommon for people to not know that they are a processor, and therefore may become agitated, distant, or uninterested with the introduction of a new idea. It is at these moments that you may offer more time and permission to process. “These are new concepts and I want to make sure you all have time to think about them. We will stop here and reconnect tomorrow to continue the conversation.” Ideally, the processor will develop insight and prompt the conversation with “may I get back to you in 24 hours so I have time to think about this.” Until then, you will need to lead them.

“Einstein took breaks from his work to play the violin. Beethoven favored “long, vigorous walks” in which he carried a pencil and blank sheet music. Mahler, Satie, and Tchaikovsky all believed in the power of the regularly scheduled mid-day walk.

For some, it’s walks and breaks in the day. For others, it’s applying time to deep interest in areas that are completely different from their professional work. From music to painting, the pursuit of creative endeavors has the ability to help us discover and connect what we know to what we aspire to know”.- Young Engine



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