As a Leader, To Understand All Your Resources, First Seek to Acknowledge and Understand

So much can be accomplished by a leader. So much action can be taken, guidance provided, and so many goals achieved for their stakeholders.

But many leaders have different styles for reaching their accomplishments, utilizing available resources, and emboldening those in their environment.

Great leaders take in a global assessment of both the outside world and the internal dynamic of their workplace or environment but when it comes to the internal assessment, the best and most effective leaders take a much deeper accounting of the resources at their disposal in their environment.

It is no easy task to take all that on — the constant assessment and vigilance of one’s environment — but it is very important.

This awareness — this understanding — is key to performance.

“Whether their idea has been used or not, you’ve conveyed that you’re always willing to ask them, ‘What’s Next?'”

Before a leader can execute a successful mission, they need to understand what is around them because a true and thorough understanding is vital to any effort.

Understanding is important for both what is put into effect and executed, and that which is not.

Related Post: Everyone’s a Customer

For what is executed and utilized, understanding is key in order to achieve success. One needs to understand the players, environment, obstacles, processes, and the ultimate goal.

For that which is not necessarily executed or utilized, understanding provides a benefit to both the leader and those in their charge.

First, for the leader, understanding is important so that he or she is fully aware of the possibilities that exist in their own environment, colleagues, or teams.

Second, taking into account and acknowledging all ideas and options is vital for yet another, more powerful reason: For those around the leader, understanding and acknowledgment from the leader convey commitment. It allows others to feel as if they are, at least, heard.

“It is much better to be proactive, soliciting ideas and providing guidance and feedback than reacting later to the frustrations of those you lead.”

There is a sense of empowerment, encouragement, and even validation someone feels when he or she is understood and acknowledged.

That reinforcement doesn’t necessarily only result when a leader utilizes someone’s idea; that reinforcement takes place when, at the very least, that person has been heard. One would be surprised how satisfying and fulfilling it might be for someone to at least be heard, acknowledged, and understood.

Much more frustration exists when someone feels as if they have not been heard. In order to avoid that built-up frustration, here are a few, easy steps to convey that sense of acknowledgment.

  1. Avoid Biases – First and foremost, before taking the actions in the following steps, one should aim to become aware of biases and favorability that might exist in the way he or she leans toward or works with one group or person over another. We may not even know we’re doing it, so we have to work to make sure we’re not doing it, thereby leveling the playing field for others.
  2. Ask Questions – Sometimes people, for their own personal reasons, might not feel comfortable stepping forward and providing their ideas. As a leader, ask questions in order to open up the conversation so ideas can begin being shared.
  3. Solicit Ideas – Beyond asking questions about what someone might already know or consider, ask others to come up with ideas. This conveys to them that a trusting environment is there for their free-thinking to evolve and be shared.
  4. Demonstrate a Thorough Understanding – Don’t take the ideas lightly. Vet the ideas with the person to make sure they know you’re taking them seriously and are truly aiming to understand where they’re coming from. Asking questions in this step communicates investment in them, their time, and effort.
  5. Explain Your Decision – Whether their idea is utilized or not, explain why you decided so. Explaining why you chose to go with their idea reinforces to them that their thinking was on-track and allows them to continue incubating new ideas. On the flipside, explaining why you decided not to go with their idea allows them to understand why. Because you’re walking them through your reasoning, they understand that their efforts are not being dismissed easily or taken lightly, and it allows them to understand that they can go back to the drawing board with new guidance.

So whether you choose to utilize someone’s idea or not, through the steps above you’ve clearly conveyed that you aim to try to understand and acknowledge as much as you can.

Demonstrating you’re at least trying diligently is much more powerful than not trying at all.

It is much better to be proactive, soliciting ideas, and providing guidance and feedback than reacting later to the frustrations of those you lead.

Related Post: Reactive vs. Proactive Workplaces

“There is a sense of empowerment, encouragement, and even validation someone feels when he or she is understood and acknowledged.”

Acknowledgment alone is powerful; understanding strengthens the impact of that acknowledgment. It pays ongoing dividends and establishes an environment of investment, trust, and confidence.

Whether their idea has been used or not, you’ve conveyed that you’re always willing to ask them, “What’s Next?”

So…What About You?

  • How do you make it known to others that their input is valued?
  • What steps do you take to encourage the input, work, and ideas of others?
  • With regard to understanding and acknowledgment, have you seen the problems that stem from a leader being reactive later rather than proactive today?

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