Day: April 6, 2020

Spark Volume 14 – Noticing as a Leader

While the word on its own may sound simple or passive, “Noticing” holds immense power in leadership. When we take the time to truly Notice the details, actions, behaviors, and consequences of our own work and the work of those around us, we become responsible for addressing what we see, whether good or bad.

Noticing creates room for praise, for gratitude, for mentoring in the moment, and for growth opportunities. It takes an insightful individual to Notice; it takes a leader to act on what is Noticed.

In addition to our Noticing Sparks below, we have also curated a few beautiful stories of the compassionate and courageous leadership we have been Noticing outside of our health care realm amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, was one of the first to close its doors to put team members first, Brené Brown, through her new podcast Unlocking Us, digs deep into naming the feelings we are having and talking about the emotional strain it is having on everyone, and AllBird CEO Tim Brown commits to donating a pair of Wool Runners to thank a health care professional with every purchase.

The Beauty of Grating Cheese

To Notice is to thoughtfully acknowledge what some may deem invisible. This thoughtful episode of This American Life uses its mastery in storytelling to address many topics that the average human may not Notice. Most connected to the work we do is “Act Three: Stiff as a Board, Light as a Feather” where the then terminally ill David Rakoff, challenged by the loss of the use of his left arm, finds beauty in normal living that we don’t acknowledge or see until it’s too late—things like being able to grate cheese normally. So simple, so obvious – until you try it with one hand. David’s lighthearted approach to a challenging situation demonstrates how he saw life through a different lens and Noticed how things worked in a wholly new way.


What are some tasks we do every day that we simply take for granted? What tools help us? What might happen without these tools?

To Thine Own Self Be True

What’s your superpower? Your kryptonite? How quickly could you answer those questions? This simple three-step guide to becoming self-aware from The Harvard Business Review doesn’t just talk about how important self-awareness is (that’s not a new insight), it talks about how to actually accomplish it. Great leaders don’t only Notice those around them, they Notice themselves through the careful practice and cultivation of self-awareness.

To boil it down, self-awareness really only requires three simple steps:

  1. We must understand our own makeup – our personalities, our strengths, and our habits.
  2. We must make a focused effort to observe our decisions and decision-making processes. What do we discover upon making these (sometimes difficult) observations?
  3. We must turn awareness outwards and use it as a tool for team building. When we know what our strengths and weaknesses are, we can better fill in the gaps on our teams.

Presence. Period.

Providers must not only be there for their patients, they must be there with their patients. With the rapid transformation of caring practices, growing stress, and a sea of unknowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, providers are navigating the delicate balance of being present and also physically distant from patients and their families. This provocative piece by esteemed medical thought leader Dr. Abraham Verghese encourages providers to Notice not just a patient’s symptoms, but the patient as a whole being.

Seeing the whole person requires careful and attentive Noticing. Verghese shares his Experience of stopping in an art museum and slowly being pulled in as he observed the works of art. Time and again he would LOOK and each time discovered something new, saw something else, felt a new emotion. He applies this thinking to his medical work–what can you see when you truly Notice? Did you Notice the cigarette box outline in the pocket? The mother who had a skin condition? The look in a patient’s eyes? We should consciously take in the whole person to make the Connection–and be present. Patients and guests don’t only deserve this Noticing, they require it to heal and to thrive.

What knowledge might we glean from people’s lives when giving them all of our ''Noticing'' energy? What are the invisible, yet powerful, forces in our work that deserve Noticing? Is it a daily technology that makes it possible to complete a task or project? Is it the environmental service crew that works the night shift to ensure a safe and clean space? What good might come from acknowledging these individuals fully? How might we shed the right kind of light on these people or practices to ensure that we are not the only one who Notices them?