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growing pains of leadership

Have you ever reflected on workplaces of your past – why did others misunderstand you so much?

If that was the case, perhaps the reflection also uncovered another, yet likely more important turning point – that others don’t have the responsibility but rather you do to enable them to understand you!  Until I learnt to tilt the gun of blame back on myself, and ask the question from a place of self-responsibility, one misinterpretation after another perpetuated.

Picture this:  A person of curiosity and awe as a team member in an extremely busy operation.  She often asked questions to strike up conversations for no other reason than to see where it may lead, to discover meaning that could lie undiscovered and to stimulate the inner curiosity that constantly urged prodding.

Picture this: A disconnected leader who was existing in the land of entitlement. The desk was his and his alone, the office space was a symbol of differentiation and separation – and needless to say questions were received as a show of might and strength attempting to derail authority.

Is the real picture clear?  A pure intention clashing with an existing reality.  What’s the lesson here?

As Kouzes and Posner state in The Leadership Challenge, the first question a team will have about you is ‘who are you’!  They aren’t seeking titles or past experiences, although some of that may make for an interesting story along the way.  Yet initially they want the reality, the core, the difference!

What could the picture have looked like to the leader if he knew the underlying values of the team member?

People want to work with, and be led by ‘real’ people, and to be real is to know, act and be proud of oneself, and the values that serve all. This may be wrapped in the words ‘what matters most’ or other words ‘what do you measure yourself by’ or yet again, ‘what guides your every decision and conscience’. They seek a true voice, and not just in words but also in action.  The voice will be believable once evidence exists of consistent, visible and active application.

Next time you wish to ask a question, ask yourself – do others have every opportunity to understand its intention, as they really do know the space its coming from? How can you provide every opportunity for all to understand the core of the question?

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