Back to Basics, Pt 3

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“Leadership is Influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”

John Maxwell

Can I share a secret with you? The scariest part of leadership for me is actually asking people to help me.

I dread rejection. I dread losing control. I dread failure. I dread under/over estimating a relationship.

But, if John Maxwell’s quote above is true, then learning to leverage influence is leadership in it’s simplest form.

Enter the third question.

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

Today, let’s talk about the third question. The first two questions lay the foundation for leadership, but truthfully just make us people others like to be around. Who doesn’t like to spend time with that friend who is willing to do anything to help? Don’t we all have a friend who stays pretty clueless to needs around them?

But if we want to grow in our leadership, if we truly want to expand our leadership influence, the third question becomes the opportunity to unleash (sorry, I’m listening to the Imperial Death March) leadership.

I can’t speak for everyone in what I’m about to say, but here’s my experience. I continually ask myself the third question as a form of accountability. I don’t want to do everything myself. I really don’t. Part of the reason for not wanting to carry it all by myself is I can become a pretty miserable person when I’m over burdened.

Something I’m coming to discover, though, is sometimes people are just waiting to be asked. So why would I let my fear and insecurity get in the way of helping someone find a way to get involved?

So when we learn to ask and answer the third question, we begin to unleash opportunities for others.

Not inviting people to join us can actually be an act of selfishness. Not wanting to share the spotlight. Not wanting to put ourselves in an uncomfortable situation. Not wanting to let go. Not wanting to admit we can’t do it all.

Your leadership will never grow if you don’t learn to invite and include others.

But, when you invite others to join you, or to even take charge, the result can be truly beautiful.

I know today I’ve gone way more personal than usual. So, I want to hear from you: do you invite others naturally, or is it work? Comment below.

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