To Lead: Observe-Ask-Act

Way too often we, as leaders because we are human, make snap decisions and lead from the hip versus the heart. This can lead to confusion on teams and a lack of trust in your leadership because you don’t understand their world. 

One of the greatest attributes of  Leaders/Managers is their ability to observe before they act. I often referred to this action as forbearance:


: the quality of someone who is patient and able to deal with a difficult person or situation without becoming angry

My view of it is someone who exhibits restraint, keeping himself in check when provoked. Savvy, confident leaders observe people. They then ask questions to understand their motivation, goals and challenges. Only after they’ve gathered that intelligence do they act and lead.

Understand. Respect. Value.

To really succeed as a leader who people desire to follow, emulate and please, you’ve got to prove to your directs that their actions are understood, respected and valued. People’s actions illustrate what they believe to be correct. A leader must recognize and understand these actions, ask what the motivations are, and then determine how to shape a person’s behavior from the unique place that person is in.

This act alone illustrates curiosity, empathy and maturity. It communicates volumes to your direct reports. It puts you into a role of responsibility to lead someone tailored to their abilities and frame of reference versus your own.

Think about it. How often have we as leaders given out a marching order thinking that our direct report would follow it to the tee, yet he didn’t.  The reason? We were really talking to ourselves versus that unique person who has a whole different set of goals, values and challenges that we as their leader are responsible to know, resolve and shape.


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