Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Ask, Listen, Lead

I’m reminded daily of the importance of listening. It’s not only how I learn about an individual’s or a team’s goals and hopes for outcomes as we work together, but it also offers me so much more. It’s through asking open-ended questions and genuinely listening that I learn how individuals see themselves, how they see the world, and how they view the environment in which they work and live. All of which helps me understand what may motivate or demotivate them, and how I might best engage them and serve as a resource.

If you try to lead others towards a significant goal or change—before learning more about their own motivators and desires—you may be leading them down a road they have no interest in traveling. And it may take a while to figure that out because they may follow you initially out of a sense of obligation or work ethic—versus their true desire to engage. And desire is the key element in sustained success.

If you manage and lead others—or you’re collaborating with others at work—I recommend the same approach. First ask questions, which can range from a one-on-one conversation to an organization-wide survey. Then, listen intently. Ask yourself what you’re learning that may help you engage others, or what may be important to consider as you create your plan to move forward. Then, based on what you’ve learned, finalize your plan, share your vision, and lead.


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