3 Simple & Effective Ways of Situation Sensing Every Leader Must Know

Your Challenge

  • New or experienced leaders trying to implement leadership best practices but unable to be effective
  • The need to see everything in black and white; facts, people, actions, decisions and results
  • Losing context in the times of change
  • Attachment to the permanence of anything and everything
Our Advice

Situation sensing is a skill that everyone is born with. However, the awareness and the extent of usage of senses depends on different individuals. It is almost like a chef cooking a dish not just through a recipe but carefully being in touch with its flavor,  aroma, temperature, and texture. All these tell the chef within, whether it feels right or not. Adjustments are made thereafter to get a well-balanced dish.

These senses are like ‘environmental radars’ that pick up information at different moments and provide clarity to the context of the situation. Leaders know when a team’s motivation seems low or when they get too complacent and need to be challenged. They sense the environmental dynamics that are immersed in power and privilege. Their radars pick up on what the energy of the room is.

Here are 3 effective ways to sharpen your situation sensing skills:

1. Observation and Cognitive Sensing: Not everything that meets the eye presents a complete picture of a situation. Observing different moments, interactions, behaviors and their connections to each other can add much more information to help develop a sound understanding of a situation. Famous professors of the London Business School, Gareth Jones and Rob Goffee call this kind of information as collecting ‘soft data’. For example, a key leader, who is expected to provide recommendations in a meeting ends up entering late to the meeting and doesn’t speak much. This is not a great situation-sensing skill reflected by that leader. Another example could include speaking too much when not required and ending up worsening a situation.
2. Changing the Gears: In a constantly changing organizational environment, leaders often need to adapt quickly and keep adjusting the momentum of their actions and behaviors as needed. It may involve skillful interventions by creating or removing social distances, moving fast or slow, communicating differently yet effectively, being more assertive or not. These are few examples but leaders never forget the foundation of staying authentic at the heart of it all, even if they have to make certain adjustments. Changing gears does not mean changing the car.

3. Creating an Alternative Context: After using their skills to understand the context through situation sensing, leaders work collaboratively with others to create a new context that is more effective and powerful. This does not mean changing the foundations of an organization but the context of how it can be more effective in a given time and space. The famous guru of Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman called it creating an ‘alternative reality’. By practicing and exemplifying the required behavior to create a positive and effective culture, a leader creates an alternative reality for others to believe in and accept in the spirit of the ever-changing context.

  • Reliability of information can be at stake in an ever-changing and complex personal, interpersonal and institutional environments. Intentionally keeping the observations sharp, not only through the 5 human senses but also the gut or the sixth sense (does it ‘feel right’?).
  • Leaders must keep their adaptive behaviors and actions alive and visible at all times to continuously sense and redefine the context.

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Sahil Sharma
Talent, Learning & Leadership Development Professional | Certified Leadership Coach

For consultation and services, contact us at www.ledxlearning.com

Our Recommendation

Contextual Intelligence – by Matthew Kutz

Leadership Book Award for Innovation and Cutting-Edge Perspective Contextual Intelligence is a leadership model that will help you navigate constantly shifting environments. This book integrates a cutting-edge 3D Thinking framework with 12 core behaviors that will help you diagnose your context and lead others to higher levels of performance. Today's leadership landscape is dynamic and challenging. Earlier theories and assumptions appear to be overly simplistic in their ability to flex with the volatility and complexity of organizations today. This book extends the complexity paradigms by integrating the principles of tacit knowledge, synchronicity and time orientation, which are essential behaviors for today's leaders.