Are you ready for a new adventure? Your week can become a transformational journey. It can be a frontier of exploration that yields new scenery and a fresh perspective. You don’t have to quit your job or transfer to a new location. It will not cost any airfare or require a passport. If you are serious about exploring new leadership territory this week, you can begin with two strategic changes. First, ask better questions. Then, pause and listen. These two practices will open your eyes and ears to new possibilities for transformation.
Exploring new territory is essential if you want to maintain a vibrant and dynamic outlook on life. It’s easy to get stuck. Frequently, I talk to leaders who feel a bit like they are mired in a routine that is neither exciting nor fulfilling. The default choices are tragic. Change jobs or maintain the status quo. It’s easy to lose your sense of adventure and become more of a settler than a pioneer. But, there is another way and it begins with a two-step habit that will revitalize your leadership. Ask and listen.
First, accept the challenge to ask the best question.
The big questions get a lot of attention. Why? Who am I? Where are we going? How will we get there? These are questions that must be asked and answered. But, every leader and every organization has unique questions that deserve consideration. For example, if you feel like your leadership journey has hit a plateau, it’s likely you have become more withdrawn. You might want to shift your focus to a smaller question that leads to positive connections. Make it your personal quest. Here’s a secret. If you become skilled at asking the best questions, you will discover a pathway that leads to increased interaction and engagement. Focus on questions that will increase information flow. Identify the best question to enable others to soar and you will be refreshed. For example, take a moment and write down the question: “Who is the most trustworthy individual in my organization?” Write down the name. Then, you are ready for the next step. Prepare to listen.
Second, listen like your life depends on it.
Discovering new leadership territory begins with good questions. Remember, the best questions are designed to increased interaction and engagement. If you really want to learn, you must listen. The best questions will reveal information. If you have identified the most trusted individual in your circle of relationships, then it’s time to go to that person. Prepare to engage and listen. This is your next opportunity to ask the best question. Seated before you is a person that is trustworthy. It’s time to tap into a reservoir of knowledge that might otherwise remain hidden. Ask, pause, listen and engage. If the level of engagement in your organization is subpar, it’s a sign that you need to ask better questions and actively listen. Engage with the responder. Healthy engagement will require you to check your defensiveness at the door. Listen to verbal and non-verbal sharing. Be present. Pay attention. It is the equivalent of discovering a new frontier in your own organization.
Finally, don’t be selfish. Model the way for others. As you learn to ask better questions and refine your listening skills, you will set an example of leadership transformation. Inspire others to increase the level and quality of engagement. Bring the best questions to the surface and listen.