A Bonus Back to Basics!

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Three Question Leadership is kind of my brand. I mean, look at the url above, and you’ll see it. I’ve spent the last 4+ years honing the three questions, but today I have a bonus for you – the secret 4th question that unlocks the power of the Three Questions.

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

I love these three questions. I love the framework they provide. I love the simplicity. I love the potential they unlock. I love watching students learn to work through them.

But sometimes, as I’ve taught these questions to students, I fill time with talking. One night I was doing that and off handedly mentioned a fourth question, to which Gabe was enamored by. I’m not sure if he was more caught by the content of the 4th question, or the secrecy of it, but he didn’t let me forget it.

The fourth question is simply this: Who can I teach the Three Questions? (Multiplication)

At the end of the day, while the first three questions provide a solid framework, the true power of the questions is in their replication. What I’ve been doing the last two weeks. What you can do by teaching the framework to those you lead.

Ultimately, the best secrets are secrets that cannot be kept. That’s why today’s title mentions a bonus. Learning to share the framework is like hitting the jackpot. Slowly but surely you will see culture begin to shift as service and leadership take a front and center approach.

So, who can you teach the three questions? Who in your life, in your sphere of influence, can you challenge? What are you waiting for? Send them the link to this blog!

As always, you can subscribe here to get these posts delivered straight to your inbox.

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.

Back to Basics, Pt 2

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“When will I ever use this in real life?”

Raise your hand if you ever uttered those infamous words, most commonly spoken in upper level math classes. We all have something intrinsically wired inside of us desiring to use what we learn. We may not always be able to verbalize the need, but it exists regardless.

In response to this hard wired desire, 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!

Today, let’s talk about the easiest of the three questions: What can I do?

After we identify needs in a room (or situation), we then ask what are we willing and capable of doing. While this is the easiest of the three questions, it’s no less important than the other two. Why? Because if we are unwilling to meet a need, it will be incredibly difficult to continually inspire and equip someone else to meet the need.

To answer the second question efficiently, discover your strengths and weaknesses. What are you good at doing? Where do you struggle?

In John Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership, he talks about there are generally two types of people – task oriented people and relationship oriented people. Neither is better than the other, because neglecting our weak side makes us that much weaker as a leader.

I’m very much a task oriented leader, so I naturally see tasks that need to be accomplished in a room. In order to grow and expand my leadership, however, I make myself look for relational opportunities in a room.

Here’s why: my willingness to meet a need will serve as an example to those around me, and it helps me learn the struggles of what I may ask someone else to do.

Ultimately, we cannot lead people where we have not gone. So if I’m unwilling to learn to meet needs, then it will be much more difficult for me to lead others to do the same.

Are you ready to take the next step in your leadership? Then step up and be willing to meet the need!

Check back next week for the continuation!

Or even better, click here to subscribe so you don’t miss a single post.

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!

Or even better, click here to subscribe so you don’t miss a single point.

Lessons from the Farm: Know Your Herd

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Would you like to know a little secret about cattle? Some are never satisfied. They almost intrinsically want to find a way out of wherever they are.

There are exceptions, of course. A good wheat field (today’s picture is actually a picture I received in a text this morning!) will stop a hungry herd in their tracks.

But when you move cattle to a new field or pasture, they will walk the fence line. It seems they do this for two reasons: first they want to know their boundaries, and second they want to find a way out of the field.

That’s why when grazing was not great we would spend time putting cattle back in our fences. And often times it was the same ones over and over.

Sometimes we could see the cattle who were on the wrong side of the fence as we drove through them, but sometimes it wasn’t always that easy. That’s why it was important to keep track of our herd-how many we had, where they were supposed to be, and even kind of what they looked like. We didn’t name every one, but you gain familiarity over time.

The same is true of leadership. Not that people like to jump fences, but we need to know the people we are leading. Spend time getting to know them. Ask questions about their life. Listen to their stories. Care about their lives. You don’t have to be best friends, but leadership is so much more effective through a relationship.

The best part: as you get to know the people you lead, trust is built. And as trust increases, productivity multiplies.

Who do you need to reach out to today? What are you waiting for?

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