“What do you need”

In most organizations, most of the time, people focus on securing what they need from those they report to. I recently worked with a project team that committed to a bold increase in manufacturing production. Like project teams everywhere, they struggled to negotiate the demands placed on them by their leadership on one hand, and the on-ground realities and issues they faced on the other. The team met most requests from leadership with ‘yes,’ which naturally led them to over-commit and under-deliver on several metrics.

In a moment of clarity, they saw that they needed to have a new kind of conversation with their leadership; one that made it clear to everyone the consequences of continuing the dynamic they worked inside of. One team member characterized the need to say: “If we don’t have X, then we can’t do Y.”

The need to have this kind of conversation with those we report to is obvious; it opens communication channels, and has both parties relate to the facts as people on the ground see it. But, here’s the problem: we spend much more time thinking about what we need to say to others as opposed to thinking about what others need to say to us.

Ask people for what you need:

What do we need to be more effective in our roles?

  • The ability to share the candid truth about the challenges we face
  • Opportunities to pause the daily rush and plan strategically
  • To renegotiate accountabilities we have

The truth is that we are not the only ones that have these kinds of needs. Your colleagues and the people that report to you do as well.

The moment the project team saw the need to address the constraints they faced with their leadership, they had a realization: the hourly factory work force, they themselves lead, likely had the same issues, and they had not spent time listening for those issues.

Proactively enabling the people you work with to address these issues makes them more effective; just as it would make you more effective were you able to address the critical issues you deal with in your work.

Guess what happens when you make the people around you more effective? It makes you a better leader.

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