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Two Leadership Traps: How To Avoid Them and How To Get Out Of Them (Part 2)


Here's how to get out of, or avoid, the "I need ... " trap. It simply involves changing what you think and what you say in very simple ways.

In my working with leaders worldwide for more than two decades, I've noticed a character trait that the most successful share: They focus consistently on understanding and supporting the people whom they lead.

For instance, you could say, "You need ..." which is a good way out. Or, you could say, "The team needs ... " which is a better way out.

Or, you could say, "Do you need? ..." Which is the best way out, especially with a question mark attached. A corollary to this question is, "What do you need from me to help you get the team to succeed?"

Asking a question rather than using a declarative is often more effective because it gets people reflecting upon their situation. After all, we can't motivate anyone to do anything. They have to motivate themselves. And they best motivate themselves when they reflect on their character and their situation.

A question can trigger such reflection and ultimately lead to their making the choice to be motivated to be your cause leader. You may not like the answer; but often their answer, no matter what it is, can better lead to more results being achieved than your declaration can.

Furthermore, asking questions like, "What do you need for the team to succeed? ..." works much better than saying "I need ... " because you are forging a "critical confluence" - the confluence of your or your organization's needs with their needs.

You may think I'm putting too fine a point on these changes; and to a degree, you'd be right. Making simply one change may not be important; but when you multiple the changes many times during the day, day in and day out, month in and month out, their aggregate can add up to tremendous change indeed. In fact, it can add up to job and career transformation.

So, the next time you are tempted to say, "I need ... ", don't. Instead, say, "Do you need? ..." or "What do you need? ... " Over time, you'll forge great changes in how people relate to you and your leadership, changes that will lead to substantial increases in results.

However, watch out: In getting out of the "I need ..." trap, you may find yourself in another trap. Asking "What do you need? ..." might play right into their hands of people who don't' trust you or want to sabotage your leadership or use you to further their own ends. Such people want to lead you down their private rabbit hole. They want to get you exploring things that have nothing to do with your getting the results you need and everything to do with satisfying the needs of their ego or whatever agenda they have. "Don't you think you need? ... " could be their ticket to ride. Before you ask the question, be aware of the ride and how to get off.

THE SECOND TRAP. The "You do ... " trap. Most leaders miss a great opportunity that presents itself to them daily. Since leadership is all about having people take action that gets results, it's important to understand the kind of action people should take to get the best results. You can ensure it is the best kind of action by challenging people not simply to do a job but to take leadership of that job. After all, there's a big difference between people doing and leading; and when you are constantly saying, "You do ... " you are missing out on getting a lot more results.

Now that you know how to avoid two leadership traps, you'll find that your career will be boosted in many marvelous ways.

2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: brent@actionleadership.com

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. - and for more than 20 years has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at http://www.actionleadership.com

Leadership is best defined by the quality of your thoughts, decisions and actions. It is also underpinned by the quality of the tools you use in your role. Be seen to bring true leadership to your organization and act with the authority that it brings to you.

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