Are you a you-first leader? One way to find out is by asking the following questions:
Do others grow as individuals under your leadership? While benefiting from your compassion, do others become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely themselves to develop a “you-first” attitude?
If you’re unsure, developing a few characteristics may bring about the fruit of you-first leadership on your team.
Commitment to the growth of people
In their book The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner write, “Any leadership practice that increases another’s sense of self-confidence, self-determination, and personal effectiveness makes that person more powerful and greatly enhances the possibility of success.”
A commitment to growing people is not a temporary fix, a quick solution to a problem, or a short-term shot in the arm that helps them only today. Commitment to growth is a long-term investment in other people. It increases their opportunities to grow, learn, and use what they have learned to its greatest benefit. When their growth multiplies, the organization’s growth and maturity multiplies.
What made a difference for me was when I finally grasped the concept of listening with the intent to understand. I had always listened with the intent to respond. The entire time I was listening, my mind was developing responses, recording counterpoints, cataloging quick points that I was sure the other person would find helpful when I responded. Listening with the intent to respond is not compassionate. It is not humble. It’s self-focused. Listening with the intent to understand is indeed focused on the other person.
As I work with leaders and spend time listening with the intent to understand, I’m amazed at how much they are willing to share with me when they know I fully intend not to just hear them but also to understand.
Both self-awareness and general awareness direct leaders to better understand situations and people. Robert Greenleaf wrote,
Awareness is not a giver of solace—it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers after solace. They have their own inner serenity.
Awareness helps leaders discern how to properly put others first.
These first three. qualities of a you-first leader will certainly build up your team and create an others-focused team. Next week, we’ll discuss the next three qualities.