Are you that kind of person who wants to figure out how you can become the most effective leader that you possibly can become? Maybe you’re an executive, manager, or entrepreneur and you’ve started your own business and you have employees that you need to serve and lead. Or do you want to best lead and serve your family, children, or community. What’s the best way to show up for your community and family?
Most of us have at least one other person we need to lead. And all of us have at least one other person who we MUST lead: Ourselves. We truly are leaders of ourselves first and foremost. We must be able to influence and move ourselves to take action and produce the results we need. That’s why the first person we must lead is ourselves. Think about it. If we can’t first lead and influence ourselves, how the heck could we take on the responsibility to lead another human being, team, or organization?
What are the skills we need as a great leader? These five I’m about to share are five that you may not consider frequently. So, for a moment, imagine and think about someone who you view as a great leader. What do you think about? What are the qualities, skills, and characteristics you think about when you hear “great leader”? When someone says “great leader” what are you thinking of? Who are you imagining?
What are they great at? What are they working on? How are they leading? As you think about the people in your own life who you view as “great leaders” you probably recognize that there are more than just five characteristics or skills of a great leader. But, in this article, I want to share five specific skills that you can start to work on NOW that can help you make more progress faster and become the great leader you’re destined to be.
Let’s dive in. The first skill ALL great leaders must develop is…
Skill #1: Listening
As a leader, how frequently are you truly prioritizing this skill of listening? For most of us as leaders, we want to step up and tell people what to do and how to think and how to execute. It’s easy to get excited and feel that a “great leader” is supposed to tell people what to do. And that can be part of how a great leader leads. But there is so much more that a great leader does than just telling people what to do and how to do it. We need to truly understand another person’s perspective. We need to show people we hear them and see them. They must feel a psychological safety at work. Listening is one of the most powerful skills anyone can develop to become a great leader.
But listening by itself is never enough. To have the opportunity to really understand the people you’re listening to as a great leader, you must develop this second skill…
Skill #2: Asking Questions
The next skill a great leader must develop is the skill of asking questions. Many people think they’re “naturals” at asking questions because they’ve been doing it their entire life. BUT, there are different levels of ability to ask questions. If we’re sincerely working to understand another person through our listening skills, we can take that a step further and ask great questions—effective questions. Some people ask very simple questions that allow them to make progress in a conversation. But what I’d suggest to you today is that if we can master our ability to ask questions more effectively and more often, then we really position ourselves to become the great leaders that we’re destined to be. Why? Because when we start to ask questions, we gain perspective from the people who we’re working to lead. And once we have that perspective, we can then come from a more effective position. Our own perspective on any situation or topic becomes more enriched and expanded as we ask more questions and gather more answers from more people whom we lead.
How often have you realized that asking one simple question can drastically change the way that you and another person that you’re leading view a situation? When we start to ask questions, we start to change the way that we and the other person view a situation. And as we can start to change and shift the way we view a situation, we can lead more effectively. And we can become better positioned to influence the people we lead to create better outcomes for our team, our organization, our community, and our clients.
Being able to develop the ability to ask questions is vital for us who desire to become great leaders. But it’s not enough just to ask questions. So, the third skill that a great leader must develop is…
Skill #3: Clarifying
What do I mean by “clarifying”? As you’re asking questions to the people you’re leading, listening to, and asking questions of, in order to more deeply understand them, we must ask more pointed questions to ensure we understand what they’re saying and how they’re feeling about and viewing a situation. We work to clarify by asking “deeper-dive” questions. Is it possible for you now to start clarifying responses that you hear while listening to someone?
You can clarify by saying or asking things like:
“Tell me more.” Or, “How did you come up with that perspective?” Or “How did you decide to view the situation that way?” Or, “What specifically makes you think that?”
The more we understand how people think and feel about any given situation, the better we can lead and serve at a higher level going forward.
And once we begin to really understand the person we’re listening to and leading, we must develop the fourth skill…
Skill #4: Inspire
Great leaders inspire. Have you ever watched Simon Sinek’s famous TED talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”? (It’s now the #3 most-watched TEDx talk of all time! Find it on YouTube if you haven’t seen it yet!) The truth is that great leaders know how to inspire themselves and the people they lead. Good leaders can do everything else a GREAT leader can do. But a good leader doesn’t inspire. Please note: I didn’t say a good leader can’t inspire. I said a good leader doesn’t inspire. To inspire is also a skill. It comes more naturally to some people than others. But it is absolutely a skill (like another other) that can be practiced and improved through the right training, strategies, and repetition. The only way to create great results is through action. And the best way to get yourself, your teammates, your employees, and your clients to take action is to inspire them. Begin to immerse yourself into this identity of being a person who inspires. I highly encourage you to begin making this skill one of the skills you intentionally develop and improve in yourself in order to become a great leader. Great leaders are great at inspiring.
To take inspiration to the next level, we need to develop skill number five which is…
Skill #5: Influence
Great leaders influence. Once we inspire and help people to feel great, we must influence people to take action consistently. And, it’s not enough to influence other people; first, we must influence ourselves. If we truly want to influence other people, we must learn to influence ourselves effectively, powerfully, and consistently. If the mission you’re on—the work you do—is important to you and positively impacts other people’s lives, then you must become great at the skill of influence. Why? Because influence is what makes things happen. When someone else is influenced to act and behave and produce results that make a difference, then we’re truly moving the needle and serving the world.
I’d offer to you that the ability to influence one’s self and other people is one of the most impactful and important skills anyone who wants to become a great leader must develop.
To become great leaders, we must develop the skills of listening, asking questions, clarifying, inspiring, and influencing.
Which of these will you focus on mastering today? I’d love to hear from you on this! Please comment below and let me know!
Remember, if you’re an entrepreneur, executive, sales person, or leader of any kind who wants to significantly speed up your progress and create even greater results faster, you need a coach. And, if you need a coach, we need to talk. Right now, I’m offering free consultations to find my next one-on-one coaching client. To find out if working together could make sense, send me an email to CONNECT@jjpeller.com that says, “I want to learn about your coaching!”
Until next time…
Have fun, and be awesome!
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