“Leadership is a practice, not a position. ” Bobbie Goheen
Leadership is not an easy practice. Once a leader gains a skill it is clear another must be developed. Front line managers and supervisors are very adept at developing skills because they are bombarded with everyday interactions that demand their growth and adaptability.
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates
As you move up in any organization it requires far more intention and focus. Most of the skills required are to deal with the hidden or unhidden emotion of others. Once this skill is developed you have the ability to move mountains based on your ability to listen, understand, and have each individual heard and honored for their contribution. You do not have to agree with them, you just need to understand their perspective.
When you understand others perspective it is easy to find collaborative solutions or adapt current practices.
As you practice this skill you will create an environment where teamwork and collaboration become the norm. There will be more ease in getting work done vs struggle and the organization will begin to show positive results.
It is clear the old way of leading, which is to define the strategy and develop a plan to tell people what to do, no longer works. It never did, the only difference between now and the past is people are far more vocal to communicate the fallacy of this idea.
“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”
John C. Maxwell
To begin the practice of understanding requires you to move to “open ended” questions ( and open-mindedness:-). Below are a small sampling of open ended questions:
- What are your ideas about the best way to accomplish this goal?
You seem passionate about this topic and what do you think we absolutely need to do to move forward?
I have not heard your thoughts on this topic and I am curious to understand your perspective?
You seem unhappy with this (product, decision, idea, concept, rule, procedure, person, etc), given the situation what would be your recommendation?
I am trying to help, and I am wondering what you are noticing in the situation that is causing concern?
What do you see that is working in this situation and what do you think needs to be changed to make it even better?
These are just a few ways to create an environment where there is open and fluid conversation, collaboration and positive results.
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” Sam Walton
If you want to develop this skill more, practice with family. There is no better place than home to really explore these skills before you go live in your work environment.
Consider doing a little “home work” by practicing exploration based questions.