Four Opportunities to Move First and Lead with Confidence

The difference between a leader and a follower is moving first.

Ask yourself, “How will I move first?” if you aspire to lead.

#1. Care first. Selfishness – disadvantaging others for the advantage of self – blocks leadership.

Self-interest is normal. Other-interest is leadership.

You can be an uncaring jerk and have title, authority, and position. But leaders show heart first.

The courage and vulnerability of leadership is caring for others before they care for you. 

The ultimate authenticity is caring. Show heart because it expresses your best self. Don’t deploy caring as a leadership strategy.

One of the great leadership questions is, “How can you let others know you care?”

#2. Understand first. Understand people’s story. What are the formative stories and values of the people on your team?

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Stephen R. Covey

#3. Ask first. The neglected practice of leadership is asking first and speaking last. We’ve been conditioned to believe that the person who speaks first and longest is the leader. No. They are the talker.

Sample questions:

  1. Who are we serving? If the answer stops with, “We serve ourselves,” the end is near.
  2. How might we create environments where people feel safe enough to bring their best?
  3. Who could use encouragement, challenge, training, opportunity?

#4. Confront first. Leaders address tough issues while others ignore them. Few things distinguish leaders more than the ability to listen with heart and discuss tough issues with curiosity, openness, and focus.

Leaders start difficult conversations with optimism. Can every issue be easily solved? No. But you can’t solve any issue you can’t openly discuss.

Getting to #4:

The first three enable the fourth. Leaders who successfully deal with tough issues care first, understand first, and ask first.

In what ways do leaders move first?

How might you move first today?

What you missed yesterday: Two of the best questions I have ever asked a leader who stuck at a fork in the road. “Two Power Questions to Clarify a Fork in the Road