What is the secret to becoming a more successful leader, having more power and being in control of your path?
Learning to understand people.
Simple as it sounds, it’s true. Why? Because…
Every business is a people business.
Understanding people is a highly valuable skill – and an art.
Yet, most people only think about what THEY need, not about others – and that’s where the disconnect happens. Successful people recognize and understand this.
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”- Ernest Hemingway
As a Leader, You Need to Ask These Key Questions
Step #1: Now that you understand this, ask yourself some important questions:
- How will you approach those around you?
- How will you act?
- In what way will you communicate?
- What will you do?
- How will you feel?
Ask yourself those questions before you begin so you can make deliberate decisions. There are no right or wrong answers. And only you know the answers.
At times, I approach from a place of confidence or strength; other times from a place of peacefulness. It can include an approach of love or curiosity as well.
I always determine the direction and tone of where we are going and create results that are in line with that approach. When I approach things from a place of defensiveness or frustration or righteousness, I create results in line with that.
Step #2: Wholeheartedly listen – with your brain, your mind – not just your ears. Listen without thinking about what you want to say next. Be aware of bias, judgment and opinions that might be sneaking in subtly. Just listen.
Step #3: Ask great questions. Once you are approaching with deliberate thoughts and listening intently, you will naturally begin to desire understanding and to gain more clarification. The benefit of asking great questions is that it helps us to gain more valuable insight and information.
“To be interesting, be interested.” – Dale Carnegie
There is nothing more valuable than to listen. It shows you are genuinely interested and cultivates deeper, more authentic relationships. While it seems like common sense, listening is not practiced.
Why? Because we are too busy, too stressed, too overwhelmed.
When you follow these 3 steps, you will be reflecting your values. You’ll become a role model – and be an impactful leader.
Listen to Understand, Not Just to Interrupt & Respond
As you continue to build relationships with people, you will become familiar with who they are, their values and priorities, how they think and what motivates them. Additionally, your team becomes familiar with you on the same level.
As an authentic leader, my team knew me well. I wanted them to know and see at all times what I valued, my priorities and what motivated me. It shaped and validated the Why and Mission of the company and created a loyal following.
The results from a genuine desire to know and understand people make us all better. Whether we are coming from an authentic approach or have a motive, it quickly becomes evident.
Each of us makes decisions about what we do because of how we feel or how we think something will make us feel. I call it:
Core Motivation: “an aroused need, drive or desire that stimulates behavior to satisfy the aroused need.”
Here’s an Example of Core Motivation at Work:
On three occasions, a key level VP of Finance was unintentionally not included in a meeting that discussed strategy-related topics with another department. He was bothered by this and made his position known.
While the exclusion was unintentional, he determined that he needed to seek a new opportunity elsewhere. While he earned an excellent salary and compensation package, he decided that what is most important to him is working in a team that values him as an integral part of strategy and relies on him for what he brings to the future.
The VP may not NEED to be seen in this way with friends or family members outside of work, but he decided that it is important to him in his career. Upon the VP’s departure, he explained his reasoning. There was no convincing him to stay. He had a need that had to be satisfied.
What to Know About Core Motivation
When you don’t know what someone’s desired need or motivation is for anything, you cannot best lead them, manage them, sell them, buy from them or work for them.
You could try to help them see things another way. But you can’t make any informed decisions unless you know the real motivating factor. Even if the VP were to decide to stay for more money, you have not resolved that unsatisfied core motive underneath. It will not go away. It will resurface. Therefore, know it, understand it, and decide how to work with it.
Many leaders believe that the best solutions are the things that THEY personally care about. They never take the time to know what their team members’ core motivators are. This can be frustrating for the company when they think they are “taking great care of their people” and for the employees as well when they think that the company does not understand what is important to them.
That is why it is vital to understand, ask questions and listen. The person who has the greatest refinement of these skills is the one who will best serve themselves and those around them. When we don’t know the desired need that must be satisfied, it becomes a guessing game trying to resolve and satisfy it.
As a leader, are you aware of your own core motivating factors?
- Is it making the most money?
- Leaving a lasting impact?
- Influencing others in some way?
Whether it’s one (or all) of these or something entirely different, it’s important you can personally answer this question:
What is my desired need that must be satisfied?
This is such an interesting process to go through with yourself. Once you know the answer, you will be SO much better doing it with others. Try it!
I’ve said before how understanding people is not only a skill, but an art. Ultimately your ability as a leader to understand others will impact the overall company culture.
We’d love to have you join us for the next focus mastery topic on cultivating culture! Get more details on our all-new website…