Situational Awareness: How to Stop Hitting People with Bats
I woke up remembering that I hit a girl with a baseball bat. I was taking practice swings during recess, and I struck her on the left side of her head. I think I was in fourth grade, but I’m not sure. I am sure of the look on her face.
She looked horrified. I remember her left hand going to the side of her head and her shocked eyes. My memory stops there.
The bat must have glanced off. There was no blood. I have no recollection of the aftermath or any consequences for my neglect. I see her face in my memory, but don’t remember her name. I cringe every time her eyes come to mind.
Only a psychopath enjoys unintentionally harming anyone.
Situational awareness protects you from unintentionally harming others.
Distracted leaders don’t know what’s going on around them and can’t see what’s in front of them.
You’re having a conversation and thinking about the next thing on your agenda, for example. You don’t intend to, but distracted attention devalues people.
When you can’t give someone undivided attention, try saying, “I want to give you my full attention. I have a meeting in five minutes. Could we connect after the meeting?”
Situational awareness is:
Situational awareness is noticing.
- Notice the environment.
- Watch faces.
- Hear tone.
- Mention it. “I could be wrong, but something feels off. What’s happening?”
- Ask, “What should I be noticing?”
Situational awareness is pulling back from the next thing. Release thoughts of the next thing so you can focus on this thing.
Situational awareness is knowing the backstory of team members.
Situational awareness is respecting the agenda of others. Your busyness isn’t permission to disrupt workflow and cause unintended harm.
How might leaders practice situational awareness today?
What makes being present difficult for you?
The utter inability of leaders to read a room, especially when sharing something they and they alone think is a good idea has ceased to amaze me. Read what Lyndon Johnson said about peeing down his own leg.
Thanks Mitch. Good seeing you today. Power blinds.
Ouch! I can totally relate to Dan’s horrific baseball bat moment (and memory). I did the exact same thing as a kid, probably about the same age. The unsuspecting victim was my little sister.
Sorry to hear that Otto. Lesson learned.
It seems to me that institutional awareness is part of situational awareness. It’s important to be aware of how your own department/division’s goals, budgetary needs, etc. fit into those of the larger organization.
Useful insight, Sam. Thank you. Being aware of how you fit into the big picture is an opportunity to feel good about your contribution.
I use the analogy of something I see – motorcycle riders wearing noise-canceling headphones. Blocking the ‘noise’ of what is going on around you is not only stupid, it can be deadly.
Thanks Ken. I hope it’s OK if I use noise-cancelling headphones while flying. 🙂 But, I see you’re point.
I’m a big fan of situational awareness and emphasizing its importance. Situational awareness is about survival. It is a critical component of leadership to both protect and serve others but also constantly evaluate the surrounding environment for your own well being. Great post. Thank youl, Dan.
Thanks Bill. I’m glad you stopped in today. It’s hard to find a down-side to being aware of our surroundings. The expression “protect and serve” helps expand the application of situational awareness from simply protecting to adding value.
Dan, your last two posts have been about waking up. Hope you’re sleeping okay 🙂
Good message, my situational awareness always fades while I am on a conference or voice call and the dreaded email pops up.
One of my favorite sayings at that time is:
“I’m sorry. Repeat that and I will actually pay attention this time.” Or “Repeat that and I will fully listen to you.”
I am not sure it is 100% proper, but it works for me.
Hi Tom, I’m doing pretty good at sleeping. A go to bed early and get up early. Works for me. Thanks for asking.
The thing I like about your approach is it’s real. Everyone else on the call knows exactly what your talking about.