To lead, you must first listen (hear; respect; ask authentic questions).
Then learn from the exchange (willingness to change).
Two experiences. One message.
First experience. I helped organize a candidate forum for our beaches in Duval County (Florida).
The candidates shared their vision for our community. During their give and take, one spoke three words that caught my attention. He said that as a public servant he understood the importance of communication—real dialogue. Even when disagreement presents itself, a leader must be the bigger person in the room. In short, to be effective he promised to “listen, learn, and lead.”
I thought how many times the first two steps go AWOL when managers think leading means to say what they think is the way to go, and, then, demand adherence. At times, some would-be leaders will ask inauthentic questions, with no intention of listening or learning, and then go about the plan they have already concocted in their minds.
They did not listen. Therefore, they could not learn from the people on their teams. There was no team spirit. Leadership is absent. They strained rather than built relationships.
Second experience. My wife and I attended another community event intended to promote conversation about how to talk to one another. About 120 people attended. We broke into small moderated discussion groups and began to examine what fractures public discourse.
One commonality seemed to bridge all options (at least within my group): The importance of setting expectations for civil, respectful, and authentic conversations.
How can we influence, educate, and change (ourselves as well as others) if we engage in toxic conversations laced with personal attacks and/or inauthentic (read: leading or insulting) questions? Posting words and emojis on social media rather than looking in the eyes of another person seeking to understand.
Which requires listening.
You don’t have to be a CEO or CFO to be a leader. You can lead your neighborhood, your congregation, your book club, your workplace team. And to lead, you must first listen (hear; respect; ask authentic questions). Then learn from the exchange (willingness to change).
You will be a more effective leader.
Video Recommendation for the Week
I recorded this video more than four years ago. It still holds value today for leaders.
Make it an inspiring and grateful week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
You can still order my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (February 2019) adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.
Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).
You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®