Back to Basics, pt 1

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever been frustrated with people you lead not meeting needs in the moment. Is this a universal frustration, or just something with which I struggle? I mean, so many times the need seems obvious to me, so why don’t they see it? Ironically, I’m sure the people in authority over me feel the same way at times.

There has to be a better way to make sure we’re on the same page, right? Right?

A little over 5 years ago I started teaching students a simple framework of questions to help them think through a practical approach to leadership and influence. I reference it often here, even giving this framework it’s own page on the navigation bar (The Foundation), but I thought it might be time to write something fresh about the Three Questions.

The concept is simple: teach yourself (and those around you!) to ask and answer the following three questions, and watch your influence slowly begin to grow. As it becomes part of the language, you’ll begin to see a difference. So, without further delay, here you go:

When you walk into a room (or approach a situation), ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. What Needs To Be Done? (Awareness)
  2. What Can I Do? (Willingness)
  3. Who Can I Get To Help? (Leadership)
  4. A Bonus Question!

First things first. What Needs to Be Done?

This seems like a rather simple question, right? As I’ve taught this to over 100 students in the past 5 years, I’ve realized there are generally two types of people: those who naturally ask this, and those who don’t. I haven’t figured out what makes the difference (if you know or have a thought, comment below!), but neither is right or wrong. It’s the way we’re wired and it’s important to know.

Asking ourselves the first question raises our awareness of what’s going on around us.

I enjoy running sound. I’ve said for over a decade that if I wasn’t on staff at a church, I would serve in the sound booth. A few years ago, I would go to a weekly event where the microphone almost never worked the way it was supposed to work. So, I had to ask myself: what needs to be done? Well, in that situation, someone needed to adjust settings on the mic and sound system.

Sometimes the needs presenting themselves are pain points – things we notice because something went wrong. Other times those needs are rather basic – chairs set out and organized, tables prepared, equipment set out, etc. But just as often, those needs are relational – a lone student looking to belong, a disconnected visitor, a forgotten regular, etc.

Either way, the first step to accomplishing a task is knowing what needs to be done. It all begins with awareness! Until we become aware of what’s happening around us, we cannot sustainably move forward in leadership.

Check back later this week for the continuation!

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