November 18, 2017

Two Essential Skills of Highly Effective Leaders

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    Two Essential Skills of Highly Effective Leaders

    questionsLeadership seems to be the buzz word these days. In fact it appears that many of us are wondering what skills need developed to become highly effective leaders.

    Chances are you will receive a variety of thoughts on this subject. However, two of the most powerful skills are listening and questioning.

    When we are in a leadership role where we are helping to develop a team, it is essential to enhance our listening and questioning skills. By taking these skills to the next level, we will rapidly propel our team towards success.

    In a recent Fast Company article: “How to Ask — And Listen — Like You Mean It” written by Kevin Kashman, it is discussed how listening and questioning provide a loop for a continuously growing conversation. Kashman writes that in order to deepen the level of questioning, you need to deepen the level of listening–resulting in trust, collaboration, and co-creating.

    A requirement for innovation is the ability to develop creative solutions. As leaders, we need to understand that our teams are full of these solutions, we just need to help bring them to the surface.

    What you need to do to ask the ‘right’ questions:

    1. Ask open ended questions. What are open ended questions? Keep in mind that any question that requires more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response is considered an open ended question. These types of questions invoke thinking and creativity to respond.

    2. Probe deeper by layering questions. Hold yourself back from responding to their answer. Instead, ask another open ended question. Sometimes, the creativity is down deep and needs several questions to bring it into the open.

    3. Be open. When your team begins talking, don’t stop the creativity by being judgmental. Approach this brainstorming with openness and possibility. Nothing is wrong at this point or in need of critiquing. Be curious about who is speaking and continue the questioning process.

    Asking these fabulous questions are pointless if we are not listening for the responses, right? This is often the most difficult skill to develop, requiring each of us to slow our minds and focus on who is speaking. Active listening requires discipline for the us as listeners.

    What you need to do to actively listen:

    1. Take off your expert hat. When you are in the role of a listener, you are not an expert. This is perhaps the hardest part of the listening process, but the most important. If you are always in the role of an expert, your team will be afraid to share. Don’t provide information or feedback until you pause for a minute or two after the person is finished talking.

    2. Keep frustration at bay. Often when we are in a listening role it is easy to get frustrated or bored with the person who is talking. You may find yourself thinking of how you could do it right or even about all of the items on your to do list. Slow down and really focus on what is being said.

    3. Listen to what is not being said. Sometimes there is information behind the response. When you are listening, pay attention to what is behind the words. This means observing body language and reactions. When you are able to bring those to the surface–that is when the magic happens.

    To become the best leader possible, enhancing our listening and questioning skills is a must. Whether you want to practice with family members or need to enroll in a workshop that teaches these skills, the rewards are worth it.

    How about you? Do you have someone in your life that has developed these skills? Notice the level of conversation that occurs with these individuals.

    Share below your experience–I’d love to hear.

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