Connecting the good with the bad
One well timed conversation can change a person’s life.
Last night I had a conversation with a young leader hungry to have an impact. Here’s a way you can approach these critical conversations.
Get clarity on their desire to lead. You can ask, “Do you see yourself filling leadership roles in our organization?” When they respond, “Yes,” affirm their desire.
Explore their strengths and weaknesses. The second question is crucial. I suggest you ask two questions at once. “What behaviors and qualities will enhance your leadership and what qualities and behaviors will hinder your success?” I like asking both questions at once because everyone knows the negative question follows the positive.
Affirm their positive qualities and behaviors by explaining their practical benefit and positive potential.
How to transition to the negative without being a downer?
Use their positive qualities as a foundation to discuss behaviors that need improvement. For example, the person I chatted with last night indicated they were goal oriented. I opened the “you need improvement” part of the conversation by saying, “A goal oriented person may walk on others, is that true of you?” Without hesitation, they responded, “Yes.” Now you can begin crafting strategies that strengthen their weaknesses.
You can say, “You’ll go further if you …”
Leadership development includes enhancing strengths and strengthening weaknesses. Connecting strengths with weakness creates an affirming environment that lowers defensiveness and maximizes success.
An added leadership development resource:
Since publishing, “Influence Over a Cup of Coffee,” I’ve encountered K. Scott Derrick. He coined the expression, “Flash Mentoring.” If you’re committed to develop leaders, I believe you’ll benefit from visiting the Flash Mentoring website.
What strategies and techniques to you use in your leadership development activities?
“What behaviors and qualities will enhance your leadership?”
“What qualities and behaviors will hinder your success?”
2 questions that help to formulate a strategy. Every personality, taken to its extreme, can become a liability. For example, if a person is good at attention to detail, they may become overly perfectionistic. This good trait (detail) then is undermined by perfectionism.
Your approach to using the good to bring out the bad so it can be acknowledged and planned for is excellent. I never thought of it that way.
I competely agree to your point that leadership development includes enhancing strenghts and strengthening weaknesses. What happes in the process is that enhanced strengths are more powerful to realise weaknesses. Recently when I was taking class of HRM students, some of them were talkative and some of them are shy in nature. I also realised that shy students were having sound knowledge and clear foucs but somewhere they were not exposed to similar environment. I focused more on shy students, and provided them maximum opportunities to speak, lead and start the discussion. Now only after five- six lecture, I see their improvement. They are open, confident and equally at par with other students. I just ask them, how do you feel now and what is your improvement. They boldly and proudly say that we are improving. Now I have left them to compete with other students. So, overcoming weaknesses might be a matter of low confidence, fear or hesitation etc. And once they are overcome, they turn into strengths.
The strategies and techniques I use in my leadership development activities are creating environment of equality, providing opportunity to all, showing beleif in all, encouraging them to do better, appreciating in public, questiioning their undesireable behaviour in private. I also tell them how your behaviour and attitude may be either helpful or harmful in making your personal and professional life.
Good and bad are part of same coin. They are inseparable. So, there is always hidden good in bad. One should not criticize bad but welcome it,because when there is no bad, you do not have opportunity to be or do good. Real taste of good can only be realised when bad is turned into good.
Thanks Dan for the great nuggets of wisdom. And thanks to the rest of the commenters who provide such sound examples of leadership in action. I desire to be an excellent leader when my time comes, but I also desire that the leadership around me thought a little less about the almighty dollar and invested in their people.
Thanks for the uplifting conversation every morning.
This is a very timely topic in light of the present economy and PPACA legislation enacted last April. When you learn you are a follower and when you teach you are a leader. Everyone has the potential to do both and they are inextricably bound together and neither can truly flourish without the other. Focusing on the good traits to bring out the weak ones is an excellent strategy and one we should follow more often than not. In my experience the deterrent to people becoming engaged as leaders is lack of self esteem and self worth. There is a “nugget of gold” within every person and the challenge is to “mine it” correctly. Sharing our weaknesses and how they have enhanced our strengths will help model the transition from student to teacher. We should never stop learning and growing and collectively we are much more powerful than “winging” it alone. I would encourage us all to be on alert to not only foster emergence of the unforeseen leader but also to personally step forward as a follower when the two paths unite. Happy Holidays to all. Al
Another great article. Your example of transitioning is excellent. I’d have gone further if I worked with you!
I have to lean on an incident related to me recently by a new acquaintance. He is the worship arts director at a church, and he had observed/intuited that one of his staff was doing an adequate job but wasn’t approaching it wholeheartedly. He shared the conversation with the staff member, in a diplomatic and sensitive (to the degree possible). Eventually, the employee moved on, having concurred that the position wasn’t the best fit for him. He told the supervisor how much he appreciated the honesty. And the supervisor got a replacement who was “on fire” to serve the particular demographic at my friend’s church. I think that’s an example of leadersship development that called for honesty, candor, and the willingness to possibly have a defensive employee sitting across the desk. It ended up being a win-win for everyone.