Leadership matters. Some of us are fortunate enough to know this from our experience of working for a great leader. Unfortunately, most of us also know leadership matters because we have worked for a not-so-great leader at some point in our careers.
Think of someone you consider to be a great leader. What do they do or say that makes them a great leader? What are the characteristics that make them stand out as a leader in your mind? I’m willing to bet that they have mastered the skill I’m going to describe below. Keep reading and let me know if I’m right.
Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower defines leadership as “the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it”. The great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar,
said, “You can get anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” The late Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, said, “The only way to influence someone is to find out what they want, and show them how to get it.” All three of these men understood the power of seeing the world from the perspective of those you wish to lead.
According to leadership expert John Maxwell, “Leadership is influence.” If you want others to follow you, you must be able to influence them. Influencing them requires that you see the world from their perspective and it is likely that each of the individuals you wish to lead has a little different perspective – they each see the world through a slightly different filter.
Imagine that I gave five people a pair of sun glasses and each pair of glasses had different color lenses. One pair with
green, another with yellow, a third with brown, a fourth with blue, and of course
one pair would have rose colored lenses. If I then asked each person to put on the glasses, look at a picture and describe the colors they see in the picture would they see the same colors? Now imagine that I also gave these five people a pair of headphones with the same audio track playing but the audio cut out or had a lot of static at different points in the track depending on the headset they had. Would each member of the group hear the same message?
Welcome to the real world. This is the situation we encounter every day in our efforts to communicate. We all perceive the world through different filters and those filters drive what we see, say and do. They drive our beliefs, priorities and perceptions.
Great leaders have learned the skill of stepping into the shoes of and seeing the world through the eyes of those they lead. Great sales people have mastered this same skill. So how do you develop or hone this skill so you can be an even more effective leader, sales person, employee, parent, spouse or friend?
You can start by asking questions and then truly listening to the answers. Ask questions like:
- What is important to you?
- What do you value?
- What are your goals?
- What outcome do you want to achieve?
- Help me understand what led you to make that decision.
Asking questions and really listening is a great first step. It will take you only so far though. To more fully understand how others perceive the world you need a model that describes the various perspectives or “world views” – a model that depicts the various filters that individuals use in perceiving reality.
There are a lot of models to help you do this. Myers Briggs Type Indicator and DISC Behavioral Style analysis are two of the most popular. The Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) concept of Meta Programs also provides a model for understanding ourselves and others.
Keep in mind though that they are just that – models. Models are a representation of reality and by definition are not perfect replicas of reality. Nonetheless, models can be quite useful in helping us understand how we see the world as well as how those we lead see the world.
The model I use most frequently personally and with my clients is the Everything DiSC® model. I was fortunate enough to take my first DiSC profile as a young manager and the insights I gained contributed significantly to my success as a manager and leader. In the next issue of this newsletter I will go into more detail on this model and how you can use it to become an even more effective leader, sales person, employee, parent, spouse or friend. In the meantime you will want to listen to this FREE audio recording that will provide you an understanding of the Four DiSC styles and help you begin to see the world from different perspectives.
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