The 4 Hidden Agendas Concealed in Complaints

In the seemingly endless Presidential campaign in the U.S., we are surrounded by chronic complainers. Countless friends complain about the choices (or the lack thereof) available to us. Venom and bile are flowing thick and fast. People become hateful and more and more angry.

But the one constant I have noted, regardless of party affiliation, is that among all the complainers, no one is offering any solutions. The ceaseless yammering is not accomplishing anything, except for fomenting more anger.

Not a very productive activity.

Do you know a chronic complainer? Do you have to work with one? Are you responsible for one?

No one likes being around complainers; we all become uncomfortable when we have to listen to too many complaints. 

How you deal with this as a leader? Dan Rockwell shared some ideas.

This is a repost of his blog post on Leadership Freak.


The 4 Hidden Agendas Concealed in Complaints

The “make it go away” fairy doesn’t exist. Ignored complaints fester.

Uncover the real dissatisfaction before solving complaints.

chronic complainers want to look caring and innocent while talking mean and ugly

The 4 hidden agendas concealed in complaints:

  1. “You should have ….” You caused the problem because you dropped the ball.
  2. “What are you going to do about this?” Whiners want – no expect – you to make it better.
  3. “I’m not happy.” Chronic complainers don’t own the real issue. They want something for themselves.
  4. “I want to look good while I talk bad.” Complainers use compassion as camouflage. They’re complaining because they “care”.

Establish the intent of complaint conversations:

  • What outcome would you like from this conversation? Don’t have conversations when intentions are undeclared, obscure, or unknown. If they don’t know what they want, have them come back when they do.
  • Are you looking for a solution or time to vent? (Ask this when you know and trust each other.) Some issues are solved with an ear.

Second venting sessions are complaints. It’s time to design solutions.

Explore the hidden agenda:

#1. If we could go back…

  • What should have happened to prevent this problem?
  • What could you have done to prevent this problem?
  • What could I have done to prevent this problem?

#2. What would you like me to do about this? Asking doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. It’s the beginning of a conversation about real solutions.

An alternative: What would you like me to do for you?

#3. What needs to happen for you to feel good, when our conversation is over in twenty minutes?

#4. If you don’t mind me asking, “What makes you care about this?” Explore assumptions and values.

Nagging issues intensify with time.

What hidden agendas might complainers have?

How might leaders deal with underlying issues?


The original post may be viewed here.

The 5 Times Your Leadership Is Guaranteed to Fail

Lolly Daskal is another leadership blogger whom I have been following for some time. Her frequent posts have given me food for thought as I lead, and as I observe others lead.

In this post, she names five key characteristics of a good leader. Everyone has their own list, but I think that these five points are absolutely essential. Read this and see if you don’t agree.

The 5 Times Your Leadership Is Guaranteed to Fail

Posted on 17 May, 2016 by Lolly Daskal

Missed target

We all want leadership to be successful. But some circumstances are reliable pointers to failure. Learn what they are and how to avoid them.

Done right, leadership is difficult. It brings great rewards, but at great risk. You have to put yourself on the line—so when you do, you want the best possible odds of success.

In some situations, though, failure is all but guaranteed. Here are five of the most common. Get to know them so you can steer far clear.

  1. When there is no trust. Leadership is about credibility and reliability; to be an effective leader, your followers must have trust in you. That’s why it’s critical to always take responsibility for your actions. Make sure your people feel guided and supported in their work and show that they can trust your leadership.
  2. When there is no character. Leaders build excellence—helping their team become all that they are capable of. To reach that level of excellence requires leadership that is grounded in character. Excellence starts with leaders of strong character who model doing what is right, not what is easy.
  3. When there is no communication. No one ever became a great leader without first becoming a great communicator. Successful leaders connect with people on an emotional level every time they speak. Their words build relationships, teach, and inspire others. Great communication also means listening well and treating your team with candor and honesty.
  4. When there is no respect. You can’t lead anyone who doesn’t respect you, and it’s hard to lead those you don’t also respect. Respect must be first given before its earned. That means thinking about every small thing you do as a leader and how it is perceived. Leaders who know how to give the utmost respect will receive respect, in the form of loyalty and performance.
  5. When there is no ability. To be successful requires tactical and technical proficiency. In any organization it is the leader’s capabilities and performance that set the tone for the team’s engagement. Leadership is empty without an understanding of the work at hand, and the best leaders work constantly to improve their expertise.

How is your own leadership looking? Are you doing what it takes to propel it forward?

Lead from within: Decide what kind of leader you going to be—the kind who is content to think of themselves as the best, or the one of the few greats whose leadership achieves the highest levels.

The original post may be found here.

15 Phrases You Need to Say to Yourself More Often

This is another post that I felt I should share in its original form. Lolly Daskal is a regular contributor to Inc. and Forbes, and has a great deal of good advice to leaders at all levels. This article is full of just plain good advice for anyone.
Discover how positive affirmations and encouraging phrases can keep you on point.
CREDIT: Getty Images

Careers and lives are too often hectic these days, making it easy to lose touch with who you are and who you want to be. Just as you’d speak positively to someone else to help keep the person on track, talking to yourself is a way to guide and motivate yourself. Positive affirmations and self-talk can be a powerful force in reminding you of the most important things.

Here are 15 phrases you should say to yourself more often to create the kind of life that will help you become the best version of yourself.

1. I would rather be kind than be right. You don’t always have to be the smartest or sharpest–sometimes the best thing to do is to be kind whenever you can, realizing how much strength and restraint it sometimes takes. When you make kindness a habit, it will be returned to you 10-fold.

2. I’m never too busy. The most successful people have time for others; it’s those who have a hard time getting things done who are too busy to spend time with colleagues, friends, and family. Keep your priorities in order and work to become the kind of person who says, “I’m never too busy.”

3. I will say what I mean and mean what I say. Make it an absolute policy to give people the information they need rather than expecting them to know the unknowable. Communication is the key to great relationships, and lack of communication is the source of a huge amount of conflict.

4. I am tough and yet I am patient. Be tough and be patient, because someday this pain you are going through is going to be useful; one day your struggle will make sense. Pain is a sign that something needs to change, a wake-up call that guides you toward a better future. So keep your heart open and do what it takes to stay tough and patient.

5. I am a student. Prepare for success by keeping your mind conditioned to always be curious, open to questions, wanting to learn. Remember if you stay ready, you don’t have to prepare when opportunity knocks.

6. I will stop being a fixer. How often do you find yourself wanting to fix things for others, giving constant advice and interference? Then at the end you discover that you’ve turned out to be an enabler rather than a helper. People need a listening ear more than advice; they want to know what they’re capable of, not what you can do to fix them.

7. I will stop judging and criticizing. Everyone is fighting some kind of battle, and frankly you don’t have a clue what most people you encounter every day are going through–just as they have no clue what you are going through. If you don’t want to be judged or critiqued, stop doing it to others.

8. I will be consistent in my choices and my daily actions. Live your life in a way that leaves no room for regret; never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you are meant to do. Continue to make consistent choices and take daily actions and work hard at what you love, no matter what the challenges are.

9. I accept that my mistakes are a big part of being successful. We all make mistakes, but you don’t have to make your mistakes your fate. Instead, realize that mistakes are part of every successful story. If you learn from them and adapt with them, you can make mistakes a source of learning. What can you do to make your mistakes OK?

10. I will stop making promises I cannot keep. If you say you are going to do something, do it. It’s easy to make promises, much harder to keep them. If you want people to trust you, underpromise and overdeliver on everything you do.

11. I know my experience is my best teacher. Don’t chase the experiences of others or try to memorize their lessons. Learn from others, of course, but remember that this is your life and your circumstances. Learn for yourself from your own experience, determine the best practice, and then do your thing.

12. I will allow my character to speak for itself. Make sure you live in such a way that if someone decided to speak badly about you, no one would believe it. Allow your character to speak for itself.

13. I cannot control everything, but I can always control my response. We cannot control many things, but we can control one thing–how we respond. Instead of trying to change what you cannot control, work on controlling your own attitude and actions. Say to yourself, I am in control of my responses. They can either be good for me or bad for me, but that is my choice.

14. I will stop comparing myself with others. No two people are alike, with the same gifts or strengths. At the end of the day, you are competing only against yourself and no one else. The sooner you understand this, the better off you will be.

15. I will work on the relationships that matter to me. All successful relationships require work; they don’t just happen. They exist and thrive when all parties put their hearts and minds in it. In human relationships, the distance is not measured in miles but in love. Two people can be right next to each other and ignore each other completely. Resolve to stay in daily touch with the people who are important in your life–not because it’s easy or convenient, but because they’re worth the effort.

The original article may be found here: 15 Phrases

How to Become a Light in the Fog

Dan Rockwell writes some great blog posts on leadership. This one resonated with me this morning, and I thought I should repost it. Thank you, Dan!

I’ve heard managers complain, “These people just don’t get it.”

Poor management is the reason people inside organizations are in the fog.

confusion is your opportunity to become a light in the fog

Impose the job of creating clarity on yourself. Stop complaining about people who don’t get it. Confusion in others is your opportunity to become a light in the fog.

Lean into confusion, not away from it.  Confusion is your friend.

Managers who embrace and then solve confusion move forward. Everyone else is lost in the fog, even if they’re working hard.

Ron Wallace, former president of UPS International has a plan for lifting the fog.

4 ways to become a light in the fog:

#1. State your expectations and then follow up.

“There is nothing more frustrating for motivated people than not knowing exactly what is expected of them.” Ron Wallace in Leadership Lessons from a UPS Driver

  1. Describe the results you want.
  2. Explain the standards the results must meet.
  3. Define the deadline. (Is it flexible or set.)
  4. Set the budget.
  5. Identify resources.
  6. Relate any constraints (sacred cows to avoid).
  7. Establish the when and how of reporting progress.
  8. Outline how performance will be measured.
  9. Make yourself available to help.

#2. Translate expectations into deliverables.

Explain expectations. Don’t tell talented people how to deliver.  “You placed these people in positions because they know how to do it.” Wallace

#3. Hold people accountable.

“If you don’t follow through with both inspections and acknowledgements, it is easy for people to think that what they’re doing isn’t important.” Wallace

#4. Check your own progress regularly.

“The gap between a leader’s expectations and a follower’s actions is usually more about their relationship than it is about matters of substance.” Wallace

You find success by delivering results through relationships.

How might leaders/managers create greater clarity?

Original post can be found here: Light in the Fog

Isn’t a common purpose enough to build a strong team?

The Houston Rockets’ basketball season ended this week with a devastating playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors. Shortly after the game ended, a headline appeared on espn.com: “Rockets’ season ends and the truth comes out.”[1] Not that this was exactly news to those who follow professional basketball.[2]

James Harden stated: “the season from the beginning wasn’t going our way. We had too many distractions, a bumpy road this entire season.” Jason Terry added: “You will be faced with all types of adversities and how you come through those is a sign of the type of team you have. Our team was just not strong enough mentally to get through those adversities and learn.”

2-3-Zone-Defense

I would hope that every player and every team in the NBA has the goal to win a championship at the beginning of each season, even if that isn’t realistic. Each player performs at an elite level, although they are not all equal. All have their strengths and weaknesses.

So why is it that a common desire is not enough to win a championship?

Jason Terry opined: “We just didn’t have the chemistry needed. It’s one thing to put the pieces together on paper, but it has to be a tight-knit bond with a group of guys to do something special, and our group just didn’t have that this year.”

What does it take to build a championship team? And what can leaders learn from professional sports to build their teams into champions?

I believe that there are four points to consider.

 

1. Communication. A team cannot function without effective communication. Roles, responsibilities and expectations must be clearly communicated. Team members must be alert to notice changes that are conveyed when plans need to change quickly, and then respond.

An effective team must be on the same page as they work, or chaos will result.

2. Cooperation. It should go without saying that there should be a spirit of cooperation on a team. Without cooperation, there is no team. Team members require a certain degree of flexibility in order to work together. They should “check their egos at the door” and sacrifice certain personal rewards for the good of the team.

3. Cohesiveness. A team without unity is not a team. It is just a collection of individuals pretending to work together.

There ought to be a feeling of collegiality on the team. That doesn’t mean that you and your committee chair have to be best friends: but you should be friends. Respect and camaraderie are vital ingredients to a functioning team. This is what provides the “chemistry” that produces synergistic results.

4. Selflessness. It’s not all about me. It’s about accomplishing our mission together.

We should evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and take advantage of individual strengths in order to minimize any team weaknesses.

One teammate might be good at everything, but he can’t do it all. A team plays to the strengths of each member. As a team, we share the load. You have to pass the ball. Sometimes you shoot; sometimes you set a screen.

And all team members should be flexible enough to step up their game when another team member is having a bad day.

team-defense-capt_las10902240643_kings_lakers_basketball_las109_001

A typical basketball team consists of five starters, with seven more on the bench, some of whom rarely see any action. But every member can make contributions within their roles. The results of their efforts can be seen in box scores and standings each day.

In your organization, there will be various teams, normally ranging in size from three to twelve people. Each team has a designated mission to perform within the organization and the results of their efforts may not be immediately evident. However, their degree of achievement will contribute to your ultimate level of success.

A motivated leader will keep these principles in mind, whether he or she leads a team of three, five, or many more.

A good leader sees beyond the common purpose or goal, and works to build strong teams to create desired results.

————————————————

 

Special thanks go to Jerry Lomenick, one of my coaches, for sharing his ideas on teamwork.

 

[1] This may be found at http://espn.go.com/blog/houston-rockets/post/_/id/2529/rockets-season-ends-and-the-truth-comes-out. Quotes are taken from this article.

[2] I’m not picking on the Houston Rockets. They are a great organization. As a life-long Lakers’ fan, I can’t justify talking trash after this season.

Course Corrections Assist in Reaching the Destination Safely

Bombardier-CS100-Flying-Above-The-Clouds

There is a great deal of attention given to the terms “formative assessments” and “summative assessments” in education circles. “Feedback” is sometimes substituted for “assessment,” but the principle doesn’t change.

Let me illustrate with something familiar to most of us. When we fly from airport A to airport B, we note that the pilot gets us there safely and mostly on time, which we appreciate. Our recognition of the pilot’s achievement is the summative feedback: we are grading his overall performance based on the end result.

We are not frequently aware that even on the short flights, the pilot is continually changing course: adjusting the altitude or the direction of the plane. The plane commonly veers off course due to atmospheric conditions, but based on feedback from instruments, the co-pilot and air traffic control, the pilot brings the plane back on course and lands it safely.

images

 

 

 

We don’t berate the pilot because he deviated from his planned course a dozen times or more; we praise him because he made corrections and got us to our collective destination. This is formative feedback: the intermediate evaluations that individually are low-stakes evaluations, but together, they produce a significant result.

 

In many organizations, an annual review is customary. In some of those organizations, this may be the only assessment that an employee receives from his leader. What a shock it can be to feel that one is on course all year, only to find that a five-degree course deviation eight months ago led to being significantly off course. Now a major correction is needed (unless a crash has already occurred) in order to return back to the planned path. Had intermediate feedback been given early on, the correction would have been more comfortable and less noticeable.

How can a leader give a beneficial formative assessment?

index

 

The core of formative feedback for the employee consists of three elements, which can be expressed in three questions:

  1. Where are you right now?

The employee must have a sense of his destination. Expectations should be clarified, as well as checkpoints.

  1. Where do you need to be right now?

As above, if clear expectations are given, the employee should already know if he or she is off course.

  1. How can you (or we) close the gap between the two?

Very often an individual readily recognizes that he or she is off course, but has no idea how to return to the planned path, or must be encouraged to make the correction. This may be the good leader’s most important task!

 

The desired assessment should occur at three levels:

  1. Self-assessment

The leader should empower the employee with the necessary tools and training to self-evaluate. I previously wrote about the Dunning Kruger Effect, which describes the need for an individual to reach a certain level of knowledge and skill in order to properly evaluate their own performance (or others’ performance).

If the leader doesn’t recognize this, then he is failing as a leader. We cannot expect excellence if we do not train for it.

  1. Peer assessment

In team efforts, the employee should be able to turn to a colleague for a meaningful formative assessment. Again, this requires that both individuals have the necessary tools. Empowering the team is particularly critical to the success of peer assessments. They must know that this is acceptable. In a sense, this empowerment is a delegation of authority to all involved, and relieves the leader/manager of a portion of his burden.

pilot-and-co-pilot-on-flight-deck-of-passenger-jet-airliner-a517td

  1. Leader (manager) assessment

Finally, the leader assesses. If the team has a proper understanding of the tasks being evaluated and the intended results, this assessment will confirm the judgment of the individual and their peers. This can be a powerful morale builder for everyone. It also becomes a checkpoint for the leader to assess his efficacy in directing the project.

 

Of course, all of this necessitates that the leader have a presence among his team. The principle of MBWA (management by walking around) lends itself well to providing formative feedback. If a leader remains isolated and doesn’t offer correction until disaster strikes, then trust, confidence and morale will be undermined.

I am not suggesting that the leader micromanage. This is not desirable. But the leader should train, empower and monitor personally in order to see that his team reaches their desired destination; that they achieve their individual, team and organizational goals.

 

A good leader will provide frequent navigational assistance to his team because he wants to see them reach their destination safely.

A Good Leader Leads with Love

self_esteem_lion

There are many inspirational stories circulating around the internet. Some of them are true; others we hope are true. The following is a summary of one that is true, and may touch the hearts of the most hardened leaders. Thanks to Jemma Garraghan on the Why Lead Now blog for this summary.

Oh, and the story is true. See Snopes. And the complete story can be found at: All Good Things.

Leaders, look inward for the lessons to be learned from this story. I cannot share all the insights you may gain from reading this and pondering it. But I invite you to share any good insights you may have gained. 

—————————————–

One day, a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list.

Before long, the entire class was smiling. “Really?” she heard whispered. “I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!” and, “I didn’t know others liked me so much,” were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. The teacher never found out if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another.

That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that student.  She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. She nodded: “Yes.” Then he said: “Mark talked about you a lot.”

After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to lunch. Mark’s mother and father were also there, wanting to speak with his teacher. “We want to show you something,” his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.”

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times.

The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

“Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.”

All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.”

Chuck’s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.”

“I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary”

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said.  Without batting an eyelash, she continued, “I think we all saved our lists.”

Tears rolled down the eyes of the humble teacher.  We encounter so many people in our lives, and it’s a precious joy to see the good in all those journeys.

———————–

self-esteem_wont_build_character

Please note that this is not a call for mindless positive thinking. You don’t need to hold hands and sing Kum Ba Ya in your meetings. That has no place in the real world. Instead, it is a reminder that we cannot lift our teams by putting the members down.

Yes, there are times when correction is needed, but it can usually be given with love. Yes, I really said that. Love is a foundational principle of Steve Farber’s Radical LEAP (that’s Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof). Moreover, it is our team members who produce our bottom lines. Do we show them that we value their contributions? Where do our priorities lie?

And now for the homework. If you gained any leadership insights from this story, take some time to determine how you will apply them. And then go to work and sincerely share the love. As in Sister Helen’s story, the changes may not be immediately apparent, but you will reap benefits.

A good leader leads with love.

Overcoming the Shoe Drop Syndrome

I have followed Dan Rockwells’ Leadership Freak Blog for some time, and I have benefited from reading his posts. This one is particularly good. In part because I have an intense dislike for the critique sandwich. The praise always comes across as insincere. And I prefer a good roast beef sandwich to a bologna (baloney) sandwich any day.

Dan’s insights here are profound, and I will change my approach because of it. That is why I share it here with you.

Recall Carnegie’s admonition to be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” The baloney sandwich is neither.

If you enjoy this, check out Dan’s other posts at Leadership Freak. He is at a place where I am striving to be with my blog.

Here’s Dan on giving praise properly:

Shoe drop syndrome: Waiting for the bad news, after receiving the good.

Manipulative leaders use praise as the channel to give the bad news that’s really on their mind. Everyone ignores the good, and waits for the other shoe to drop.

search for the good

Feedback sandwich:

The feedback sandwich is filled with baloney.

You start and end with praise and slip the baloney in between. Go ahead, use praise as a courtesy, when delivering tough news, but don’t expect it to stick.

If the only praise you give is in preparation for bad news, you’re a jerk.

Search for the good. The stink finds you all by itself.

10 ways to look for the good:

  1. Schedule a daily walk about to look only for praiseworthy behaviors. Take 15 minutes every day this week to bring it up and brag it up.
  2. Use language that expresses emotion. I’m so proud to work here when I see ______.
  3. Think about things that are running smoothly. What isn’t broken?
  4. Seize imperfect moments to offer imperfect praise. Don’t wait for the perfect moment.
  5. Compliment small things. If you wait for the big stuff, you wait too long.
  6. Complete this sentence. I respect you for ______.
  7. Acknowledge effort as well as achievement.
  8. When you see behaviors you want more of, complement it right then.
  9. Who gets along, serves, speaks truth to power, or goes the extra mile?
  10. Use virtual channels if your team is spread across the globe.

Bonus: Ask, “What’s working?”

Look for:

  1. Energy.
  2. Reliability.
  3. Creativity.
  4. Loyalty.
  5. Endurance.
  6. Integrity.
  7. Skill.

Contributors:

Pour energy into contributors.

Don’t allow poor performers to consume your time, attention, and energy. Give them a chance. Help them step up. Offer training. But, don’t let compassion or hope be the reason you neglect high performers.

Focus on high performers and people who are growing, if you want great achievement.

How might leaders aggressively search for the good?

Re-posted from: Leadership Freak

Good Leaders Listen

A number of years ago, I worked as a laborer for a mechanical contractor. We helped build the former Main Street Mall in Park City, Utah. As tenants began to occupy the building, it became apparent that there were some problems with the cooling system.

A meeting was called for all the contractors and many of the subcontractors who worked on the construction of the mall, presumably to discuss the problem. I happened to be there, too, and I learned a great lesson. These busy contractors sat in the room waiting for a constructive discussion. Randy Fields, at that time the “Mr. Fields” to Mrs. Fields of cookie fame, and a principal investor in the building, strode into the room.

Without any acknowledgement or introduction, he began: “We have a problem! I don’t care what it is or who is responsible: just fix it!” Then his tirade was over, and he left.

To say that we were all astonished would be an understatement. These contractors were busy men. They took time away from other projects to attend a 30-second meeting that accomplished exactly nothing. Except that it made a lasting impression on me. And the vast majority of them did not need to be there.

Fast forward to a recent committee meeting I attended. We had a brief agenda, and finished quickly (which does not often happen). Then our supervisor announced “Since we have some time left, I would like for us to have a frank discussion.” He proceeded to talk for 12 of the next 15 minutes, and honestly, he did not receive any meaningful feedback from any of us.

What did these two meetings have in common? The “facilitator” was not interested in listening; only in presenting and defending his own position.

Good leaders listen. A leader who doesn’t listen is more tyrant than leader. It is important for a connected leader to hear and consider what his people have to say. In our church councils, the leader has the ultimate decision-making authority, but the leaders I have served with consider the opinions of all before they present their decisions.

This is why many organizations follow parliamentary procedure: so that all participants may feel that their voice is heard.

An effective leader must be prepared to manage discussions in meetings. At the same time, he can receive useful information that will help him to fulfill his responsibilities.

When a leader cuts off discussion by defending the status quo, or by pushing his or her own agenda, the other attendees will cease to be followers. Particularly in a committee or council setting, it is important that everyone (within reason) feels that his opinion is valued. Many members will be reluctant to contribute if they feel that this is not the case.

Covey taught “Seek first to understand; then to be understood.” Effective leadership demands that we truly listen to our “followers” with the respect we would expect if the roles were reversed. That is often our biggest challenge as leaders. All too frequently we are thinking of what we will say next instead of listening attentively.

I have become a good listener because I have significant hearing loss. That bears some explanation. I have 50% hearing loss in my right ear. This creates difficulty for me in noisy rooms and many social situations. And if you are sitting on my right side, I won’t hear you well. While I do not read lips, if I don’t look at the person conversing with me, I cannot hear them well. Eye contact supports my ear contact. And I can see accompanying facial expressions, too.

Try this for a week. When you converse with someone, direct your full attention to the individual who is speaking. You will be amazed at what you hear.

Listen and lead!