As I look back on my early years as a leader there were many times I marched into meetings or conversations and it was all about the important task at hand. I’m pretty sure I was more concerned about accomplishing a mission, than I was about contributing to the development of the person helping us get that mission accomplished.
Eventually, I saw the poor way I was treating people and worked to change this.
So, as we often do, I swung the pendulum over to the other side, and spent more time in meetings finding out how others were doing in their personal or working environment… often leaving important items, that were not being done well, or were significantly impacting other people, un-addressed.
Eventually, I found a better rhythm between these two ditches.
This rhythm seemed to help people feel cared for and also
coached them toward a clearer understanding of their next steps and responsibilities.
Today is Mastering Mondays where we tackle an issue that could make a substantial difference in the way you lead and love others.
Balancing our engagement with people between invitation and challenge ( as my friend & fellow leader, Mike Breen, phrases it) seems to be a common issue for leaders, spouses, coaches, and parents.
How much is too much task orientation and not enough personal encouragement? Or the reverse?
Most of us have a conversational or meeting default switch. Which one of these would others say you most often tend to use?
A) You charge into meetings and immediately begin asking about how the person or people are FUNCTIONING … the task… the mission… .the project.. what’s been done or not done and why. The people you are meeting with can feel like their only value is about the accomplishment of the all important to-do list.
B) You amble into a meeting, make sure everyone is comfortable and focus mainly on how the people are FEELING. You begin with genuine personal care but often get so involved or bogged down in the details, that key problem areas of responsibility aren’t adequately addressed.
If you want to find an effective and healthy rhythm that will both encourage as well as empower those around you… and result in their ongoing growth, try employing these six questions:
1. How are you feeling about your life right now?
At the heart of both effective coaching, parenting, or marriage, is a relational investment. Check on how the person is REALLY doing.
You should know ahead of time, this question typically has to be asked three times in a row,
before a person really understands or feels like
you are truly interested in how they are actually doing.
2. Where do you feel like you’re winning?
This can be asked multiple ways including: “what are you celebrating?” This keeps the tone of the meeting relational and positive. Its tempting to quickly focus on whats not working or what is broken. This keeps the conversation focused on where the leader is feeling successful.
3. What are your top 2 challenges?
The first couple of questions are more relational and that actually is the BIG deal.
But here, we let them talk openly about the things that may need development in the group or team. It’s vital to understand that the greater the level of honesty and specificity around this, the more effective it will be.
Also note that the more you demonstrate an atmosphere of:
“you are not a bad person or ineffective leader because you’re experiencing challenges,”
the greater the level of honesty & help.
4. What are you planning to do about these challenges?
Once a leader has disclosed some areas of challenge within their life, group, or team, its tempting to quickly move into fix & solve mode or to offer your advice.
Don’t solve the problem for them.
The best way we can serve a person is to encourage them to deal on their own, with whatever they’re facing. Our role is to help draw out those answers or solutions. This gives them more confidence for the future and more lasting ownership of the situation they’re responsible for.
5. How can I help you?
Once they’ve come up with several ideas to address their issue, then we can come alongside and offer additional support or assistance where needed. This is one way we can practically serve them.
6. How can I pray for you?
Where this is possible and the person is open to it, praying is another way to show concern and demonstrates that you both want to participate with and rely on the most caring and empowering Person in the universe.
This is a great opportunity to ask them to be praying for you as well, demonstrating the humility and interdependence it takes to see good things accomplished.
If you think you may need additional help keeping the meeting on track, try shooting for about 5 minutes per question for a 30 minute meeting. If you have an hour, then double it.
This week, try asking these 6 questions and see if it brings you a better rhythm of personability and productivity.
*** What other questions do you find to be encouraging and empowering?