Leadership: Find Uncommon Views of Common Wisdom | #PeopleSkills

Leaders, do you ever assume that everyone shares common wisdom and values the same things? We know that questioning assumptions is important. But do we all question assumptions about what we see as common wisdom and common sense?



Uncommon Views of Common Wisdom: Image is magnifying glass.

Uncommon Views of Common WIsdom. Image by Aunti P. via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Image by: Auntie P


Common Wisdom May Not Be So Common

I was having dinner with friends and their acquaintances. Several are research scientists. One asked me to describe some of my engagements so he could better understand my work.  When I mentioned a leadership team needing more effective meeting agendas and collaboration, he quipped:




“Agendas huh. Wow. That’s something.

Next week you can invent minutes.”




Many laughed. I chuckled too in spite of his barb. I was amused by what this intelligent scientist didn’t know. Not everyone holds or uses the same common wisdom.

Common wisdom, e.g. use an agenda, is impacted by uncommon views. These views can be unstated and strong  Overlook these unstated uncommon views and they will live as hidden assumptions. Those can strangle a leadership team and the organization’s success.

To counteract this, leaders long ago added question assumptions to best practices and effective meeting techniques.  Yet the problem of hidden assumptions continues! The more common we see the wisdom, the less likely we are to think that someone doesn’t have this common wisdom or is viewing it differently.


To question assumptions about uncommon views of common wisdom, we must first believe that someone would have an uncommon view! The research scientist I mentioned never considered that anyone would question the value of an agenda. His own views and assumptions blinded him to uncommon views. Yet in his daily work, this scientist searches for the unknown and uncommon. This mistake can happen to any of us.


How can we unearth uncommon views and assumptions when our view blinds us to other possibilities?



#1 Know Where to Look.

Uncommon views are often found in personality type, previous experience, occupational culture and between generations. On the leadership team I was helping, personality type differences were causing the struggle over whether to use an agenda. Some felt empowered by it, others felt constrained.



#2 Know When It Is Likely to Happen.

In settings with many different personality types, experiences, occupational cultures and generations. For example, if technical and non-technical people are interacting, you will find hidden assumptions and uncommon views. Draw them out and turn silos into success.

In times of great pressure or great change. Although many people get more vocal under pressure, they don’t clarify their assumptions. They express their opinions without their assumptions. Uncover the hidden and move people from pressure to progress.


#3 Spot the Telltale Signs of Hidden Views.

Discussion with no progress. If wheels are spinning, something hidden is holding you back.

Frustration rising for no apparent reason. Find the reason in the hidden assumptions.

Conversations that don’t flow. Ever been in a meeting where you don’t understand how one comment connects to another? Hidden views and assumptions are in full swing. Identify the assumptions and watch your meeting results turn from mediocre to meteoric.

Uncommon views of common wisdom are valuable. Draw them out. Question what you think everyone believes and values else you miss the value!




From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™


Related Posts:
Leadership Assumptions That Damage Tomorrow
The 13 Most Absurd Assumptions Between Introverts & Extroverts

©2017 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.



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One Response to “Leadership: Find Uncommon Views of Common Wisdom | #PeopleSkills”

  1. AprilS says:

    This is spot on as I have found myself dealing with exactly this. While working on our website, I was making changes based upon my knowledge of websites. My boss pointed out some of my decisions were based upon logical thinking and that I needed to remember not everyone was as technical and logical as we are. I had to go back and make several changes because I hadn’t thought of people with uncommon view points. Definitely something to keep in mind when working with other people. We all have a different way of thinking and you can’t expect everyone to see things the way you do.

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