Ask any leader to share what they wish they could avoid and top of the list would be :
I wish I could avoid being interrupted by people in my daily schedule.
When Doug Conant became a CEO, he tried his best to not get interrupted. Did not work. Left with no other choice, he thought over how he viewed the challenge.
He was looking to avoid these people interruptions so that he could maximise opportunities for exerting stronger leadership – at a time and place of his own choosing.
What if he looked at it differently?
What if these interruptions themselves were timely opportunities to exert strong leadership?
Thats when he came up with the concept of a Touchpoint. A Touchpoint is an interaction where you get an opportunity to deal with an issue and move things forward. People were coming to Doug because there was an issue they needed his help on. The brilliant insight Doug had was that when people come to you for a talk on their own, they are already primed to be receptive to what you have to say!
Recall your time as a parent to young kids or teenagers. When you want to pass on some golden words of wisdom and approach them, how receptive are they, really?! But, when they are in trouble or need your help – and in that situation – after giving them what they want, you offer your words of counsel; that does work better, isn’t it?!
Doug realised that the interruptions are a terrific touchpoint to make a difference. You can engage people around the main topic and also connect it to the wider context of vision and mission of the organization. As the main topic matters to these people, they are absolutely engaged and get the point.
Doug’s Touchpoint framework.
1 -Reframe every interruption and regular engagement as a Touchpoint
2 – Ask first – How can I help?
3 – Listen intently to what is being said and not said
4 – Frame the issue so that you understand the context in which the person is seeking your help
5 – Help them advance the agenda
6 – Ask – How did it go?