Effective Leadership Skills - Edited and Revised Transcript
by Alan Seid
Leadership skills is a massive topic. So many of my clients, whether it’s through executive coaching or whether it’s through some of the training programs that I do, are leaders. You may be a leader or you may be an aspiring leader. There are five things that I want you to consider when you’re thinking about effective leadership skills.
The first is the distinction between power-over and power-with. The old rulebook of leadership said that a leader is someone who orders people around and tells them what to do. I think we’re much more powerful with power-with than power-over,
so I want you to consider the possibility that, as an effective leader,
you can have this sense of being in your own power, being powerful, and
being powerful with other people rather than needing to order other people around.
The second thing I’d like to leave you with for effective leadership skills is a commitment to your own personal and professional growth and development.
If you’re committed to becoming a better person and you’re committed to
learning and growing, then you’re going to be much more effective as a
leader than the types leaders that I’ve seen in the world who think that
they’re at the pinnacle of human evolution and they don’t need to grow
or learn or change. Your commitment to your own personal growth and
development and your professional development is going to make you a
much more effective leader. So adopt the attitude of having a commitment to lifelong learning and growing.
The third element is effective listening skills.
Effective speaking skills are really important for how to enroll people
in your vision or how to share what you’re thinking or what you’re
seeing in a very real way. However, listening skills tend to be a highly
underrated component of effective leadership skills. They’re not
emphasized enough. Through your listening skills is how you build
rapport with your team, an essential foundation for effective teamwork. It’s how you build trust with other people. What
you find over time is that when things get hard, when times get tough,
that’s when you can really count on the trust you’ve built up and the
high level of morale that you have in your team because you’ve been such
a good listener. Keep in mind that nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Listening skills are a huge piece of the connection people will feel with you as you develop effective leadership skills.
The fourth piece for effective leadership skills that I’d like to leave you with is committing to learning how to run effective meetings. Running effective meetings is so important. There’s even a book out there called, Death By Meeting.
So many of us spend so much of our time in meetings, and I’ve suffered
through poor process long enough. Now I have two other options when I
encounter a poor process. I either take over the process or I leave,
because I won’t suffer through it anymore. So learn how to run effective
meetings. Learn how to surface dissenting views constructively for the
group. You can learn how to help people get heard, you can find the
common ground between people, you can keep the meeting on track, and you
can facilitate consensus. These are all skills for running effective
I’ll leave you with two questions most people never ask that are incredibly important when running a meeting. The first question is, “What are we trying to accomplish?”, and the second question is, “How much time do we have to accomplish it?” Just try asking those two questions at the beginning of every meeting and you’ll see that it’ll bump up the productivity and the effectiveness of your meetings to a huge extent. The number one leverage point to effective meetings is actually mature individuals, which brings us back to the personal and professional development. Part of lifelong learning and growing for you as a leader or as an aspiring leader is learning how to run effective meetings.
The fifth thing I’d like to leave you with in terms of effective leadership skills is knowing how to make clear requests and knowing how to clarify other people’s requests.
Requests, rather than demands are what allows other people to
experience the sense that they have choice in what they’re doing, and
you’re also making it actionable for them to respond to you in this
moment. There are four qualities to an actionable request. We want it to
be specific, positive, doable, and present moment, meaning right
now. How can we give the person the opportunity to respond to us in
this moment? And your request needs to have positive action language, in
other words, what you want the person to do instead of what you want
them not to do. So, making clear requests is one piece of it. Helping
other people clarify what it is they’re wanting in the moment is another
piece of effective leadership skills.
I can and have taught a 3 hour workshop around requests, but let me say this: A request is not a desire. "Oh, I would love it if someone where more organized in the accounting department." That’s not a request, that’s a desire. Or a proposal is not a request. "I propose that we restructure some section of out organization," or, "I propose that we create an event every fall." That’s a proposal. A request is: what information are you wanting from the people in the room in this moment in relation to that proposal.
I was at a meeting once where I experienced someone deliver a proposal that was a beautiful proposal. I thought it was an amazing proposal, but because this person was missing some of the tips I'm sharing with you here for effective leadership skills, she didn’t have a clear request of the group. If you’ve been in a lot of meetings, you’ve probably seen people put out a proposal and then sit back and wait to see whether people jump on in or not, or to see if they get a favorable response or not, instead of making a clear request.
So here’s my proposal, and here are some examples of clear requests. "I’d like to see a show of hands of other people who liked my proposal." Or, "I’d like to see a show of hands of people who think my proposal is going to have major obstacles in getting adopted." Or, "I’d like to see a show of hands of people who would be willing to meet with me after the meeting about writing a letter to our local government in relation to this proposal." Those are examples of requests of ways people can respond to you in the moment in relation to your proposal.
Learning how to make requests
and learning how to help other people clarify their present actionable
requests are critical skills for being an effective leader.
In summary, the five things I’m leaving you with are:
1) The distinction of power-over and power-with and encouraging you to adopt a mindset of power-with;
2) A commitment to your lifelong learning and growing, a commitment to your personal and professional development;
3) Developing effective listening skills and really being present with people and building that trust and that rapport;
4) Running effective meetings and committing to learning the skills of how to do that;
5) Clarifying requests, both the way you express them and helping to clarify other people’s requests of you.