Want to be a better leader? Want to have more influence? Want to be respected more?
As both a parent and business consultant helping organizations change and thrive over the past 18 years, I have learned one basic yet powerful principle. It happened one day, several years ago, as I was visiting with my oldest child in what I call a "father/child interview" [or "mother/child interview."] You can watch as I share my experience in the following video, or you can read the transcript below.
For years, I've conducted these interviews with each of my children. I regularly visit with each of my children one on one and have a heart-to-heart talk. We go to a separate room from the rest of the family, and we sit down together. It's not a time for Dad to tell them to shape up or what to do differently. It's just a time for Dad to listen.
During this heartfelt and often tender time, I spend 20% of the time asking questions and 80% of the time listening. Over the years, my kids have opened up to me about all kinds of subjects, because they trust me, and they know that, when they come into those discussions, they are not in store for a beat-down. They know it's a time to be genuine and put it all on the table.
A few years ago, while I was in one of these interviews with my oldest son, Bryce, I had the impression to ask a question that I've since used repeatedly.
I asked, "Bryce, how can I be a better dad?"
Bryce, being the kind son that he is, said, "Dad, you're the best dad ever." I said, "I know..." LOL!
I said, "No, seriously, son, tell me. How can I be a better dad?" He hesitated, perhaps to compose his feedback respectfully, and then he took a deep breath. He said, "You know what, Dad? It just seems like lately, you've been kind of snappy. Snappy at Mom a little bit, snappy at us kids... Maybe you could work on that, do you think, Dad?" I said, "Son, I got it. I'll work on that." And I made it my focus for the next few weeks to change for the better.
You can do the same thing! Approach your co-workers or your team members, and say, "How can I be a better leader? How can I be a better team member? How can I work better with you, so that we work more in stride with each other?"
I challenge you to do it. It will require you to be vulnerable. It will require you to be authentic, but that's what I'm asking you to do. Besides, if you have confidence, if you have a good self-esteem, you can pull it off with the best results. Ask these valuable questions, and then take the feedback without getting offended. They say the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement!
[Video Transcript End]
Over the years, I’ve observed that, in cases in which employees respect their leaders, it is evident that the leader genuinely seeks and is open to feedback. They are open to ideas. They intentionally seek input from all levels of the organization to the best of their ability. They listen to their customers. They recognize that growth and performance is a never-ending process and that honest feedback enables improvement.
In stark contrast, I've also experienced leaders who claim they want change or feedback, but as I get to know them and listen to their people, it becomes clear that the leaders really don't want to change or aren't willing to change. In organizations where leaders are threatened by feedback, apathetic attitudes spread throughout and begin to limit effectiveness. It becomes contagious! Yet, some of the greatest ideas that have transformed companies and teams often come from non-management employees where the culture embraces ideas, and individual voices are valued.
If you want to change your organizational culture and have a positive impact on the people you lead, use this bold but simple strategy. This strategy will begin the process that will help you transform your work experience, team, and culture.
STRATEGY: Be both humble and confident enough to ask your colleagues this question:
"How can I be a better leader?"
"How can I be a better manager/supervisor/co-worker/friend?"
Then graciously accept the feedback you receive!
Note: This does not mean that you have to agree with everything your associates suggest. It does not mean that the feedback won't hurt from time to time.
When receiving feedback, ask yourself the following questions:
• Will this feedback help me/us move forward?
• Will this help me/us become more productive in the future?
• Is it useful?
• Does it positively contribute to the organization's values and vision?
About TJ Hoisington:
TJ Hoisington is the bestselling author of "If You Think You Can!" and "The Secret of the Slight Edge." He has authored other books and training programs on peak performance, personal development, and leadership. As a motivational speaker and organizational performance expert, TJ has been invited to speak to audiences of 10-15,000 people. TJ's mission is to provide inspiration and tools that empower people and organizations achieve their goals by unleashing the greatness within. He is the co-founder of Dunn Hoisington Leadership International.