Seek First to Understand

Operations Meeting Vs Advisory Board Meeting

Stephen Covey, one of the most famous authors of all time, said we must “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

However, in our communications with others, most of us seek first to be understood. We are so intent on getting our point across that we don’t genuinely listen to others. Being so focused on ourselves means we miss important cues and issues, be quick to judge, and lose trust and influence.

As a business owner or leader, you must seek first to understand.

You are successful. You have achieved amazing things and everyone looks up to you. You give advice, set the direction and create the strategy.

But how often do you truly take time to stop, think and seek to understand?

You’re never too busy to understand

To succeed in business, you need to have a full grasp of the bigger picture. What forces and issues are at play? What’s happening in the market? What strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats arise with every decision you make?

Knowing the answers to these questions requires you to seek first to understand.

But trying to understand takes time. Often, we don’t have that time – or, at least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

How often have you found yourself talking with someone – a marketing expert, customer or team member – and been so distracted, you didn’t genuinely listen to anything they had to say? And how often are you so busy with processes and fighting fires, you fail to make time to probe and analyse your business, market and industry?

One of our clients was so busy delivering services, they didn’t take the time to understand their market. They didn’t know what their clients truly wanted, and they didn’t even recognise who their clients should be. After we helped them conduct some market research and analysis, the business gained a thorough comprehension of their market and repositioned into the market they wanted. The result was increased net profit and gross profit EBITA, and a much happier business owner.

What don’t you know?

We are all time poor. But it’s critical to your business’s growth that you stop to look around, understand what’s happening, and explore all opportunities and solutions.

In business, what don’t you know? Who advises you on market positioning, strategy, culture, learning and development? When did you last conduct a staff satisfaction survey? Do you ever revisit your corporate social responsibility strategy?

Once you understand the needs and strategy of your organisation, only then can you be understood. Professional advisors will give you this deep understanding, so you can get your executive team and entire business on the same page and take your business from good to great.

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