Whether one wants to be a leader of an organization, group, or business, or to become elite in his field of endeavor, whether it is sales, marketing, management or consultation, he must emphasize his communication skills, and begin to focus on methods and means of improving and enhancing them! How can anyone address any concern, question or objection, if he doesn’t thoroughly understand it? Unless you take the time and make the effort to clarify what is meant, rather than the usual and somewhat easier course of assuming intent based on our own personal perceptions, prejudices and biases, the opportunity to arrive at some meeting of the minds or common ground is exponentially minimized and/ or reduced. Wise leaders, therefore, begin by effectively listening (and avoid interrupting), then follow up by asking probing and clarifying questions (in a non – adversarial manner), in order to be certain that they understand precisely what is being asked, and then calmly and completely address and answer the concern, in an empathetic, patient manner.
1. True impactful leadership, therefore, begins with the listening and asking steps! Listen carefully, not merely to the words but also to the intent and meaning. Observe body language and other indicators in an objective, yet non – judgmental manner. Then, proceed to ask questions that clarify and identify the true concerns and intents of what you are listening to. Far too often, individuals merely go through the facade of asking questions, apparently more interested in hearing their own voice than in communicating and connecting. These questions are really only valuable when they lead to the gathering of relevant information and ideas that further both parties abilities to communicate and understand needs and concerns. It is essential, therefore, to get to the essence and meaning, while remaining open to alternative ideas, etc.
2. The clarification step is one of the most overlooked! While some ask questions, the attempt to utilize the responses as part of the intelligence gathering process is often avoided or overlooked. Every question should be used towards making a leader better understand and appreciate what’s going on. Far too often, someone immediately responds and often over – reacts to what he believes is being asked, only to open up a sort of Pandora’s Box (by bringing up a concern that the other party never had in the first place). This takes a combination of discipline, integrity, self – confidence, and a comfort level with the process.
3. Once the first two steps are performed, it is now possible to truly make a difference. Great leadership is about great understanding, compassion and empathy, and that means patiently and thoroughly responding to a concern and transparently answering to the other party’s satisfaction. I have often trained others and personally utilized what I refer to as the Five Steps, and only when we first ask questions and clarify, then empathize, then respond and address concerns thoroughly, followed by recreating the need for the other party, and then closing the deal, are we performing as a true leader.
Will you commit to this procedure? Only if and when you will, is there the potential to perform to your true potential!