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This morning I find myself sitting patiently among dozens of other citizens waiting to see if I will actually serve jury duty. I don’t dread it, nor did I try to find away around it. Quite the contrary.

About 4 years ago, I actually had the privilege of serving for the Grand Jury … not a single day / trial … but 2 months of 2 days a week for 8 hours gauging whether or not cases would or wouldn’t go to trial.

We could easily review 60+ cases in a day covering all manners of incidents. To say some of them were interesting would be an understatement! Needless to say, I learned to respect our system during that experience.

So rather than sit here and sulk about having to be here today, I looked for some good articles on what I could take out of this. Here is one I particularly enjoyed … I trust you will too.

  1. Listen Openly: When you are not allowed to talk in a courtroom as a juror, you are forced to listen openly. Great leaders and team members listen with the intent to understand first, rather than listening with the intent to speak or reply. Although this was extremely difficult, see if you can practice your “juror” listening skills during your next meeting or conversation with a colleague.
  2. Validate All Perspectives: During the five-day trial, I was able to hear from expert witnesses such as the coroner and the civil engineer, as well as the mother, the passerby and the defendant. Each had their own story to tell. Whether or not they were stating fact, assumption or opinion, each brought their own angle of the incident. It was my responsibility to allow everyone to share their story. Great leaders take time to validate perspectives and hear both sides of a story before reaching any conclusion.
  3. Apply Critical-Thinking Skills: Jury duty reminded me that thinking critically is nothing more than deciding if a claim is true, partially true or false. Great leaders and teams use this to actively reach conclusions based on reason and parcel through observations, unstated assumptions and values, misinterpreted data and evaluate arguments. Thinking critically allows great leaders to decrease prejudices, biases and the risk of making mistakes.
  4. Let Go of Assumptions: I had a lot of assumptions of jury duty all thanks to great television programs such as CSI and The Good Wife. I had assumptions of what it meant to serve as a juror as well as prejudices of criminals and civil attorneys. I had to relinquish these assumptions when I walked through the courtroom door. Great leaders and effective teams let go of all assumptions and thoughts of who is right or wrong. They also are very aware of the biases and prejudices that they bring into a team or a situation. Check your assumptions at the door.
  5. Finding the 5%: Although I was uneasy about missing a week of work, I approached this situation and applied my 5% rule: When great leaders find themselves in a situation that is less than desirable, they try and find the 5% of what is great about the situation.
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