In the rush of production and high speed decision making, leaders sometimes underestimate their impact.

When you lead, every conversation you have with staff, team members and colleagues carries on multiple levels. Through your conversations and actions, you’re constantly sending messages out about what really matters to you. People around you watch, listen and decode your true values and intentions then begin shaping their choices about how they will react with you.

Wise leaders carry a question in the background of their day to day activities and conversations. They ask themselves: “What am I doing when I’m doing what I’m doing?” This question helps them realize that in those moments, they are modelling values, shaping culture, engaging others, creating conditions for collaboration or on the other hand, provoking polarization and grid-lock. The question also allows them to make wise choices and refine their decision making.

As an example, in a conversation about a performance issue, you may recognize that you are solving a practical problem, working on engaging the person across from you, reflecting organizational values and modeling wise problem solving. Even if a practical solution isn’t obvious in the moment, you may choose to work on values, and engaging your colleague. By having more options and making wise choices, you’ll both most likely feel more positive about the outcomes and generate the conditions for solving the practical issue.

Next time you get into a challenging situation, try it. Ask yourself: “What am I doing when I’m doing what I’m doing?” and broaden your options.