Leadership Tools for Transitions

May 03, 2023

I like simple tools that are easy to understand and use. When I was into woodworking years ago, it’s what I loved about a simple table saw or drill press. So much can be done with those two simple tools.  In the previous blog I introduced the Ultimate Communication Multi-tool.

Identify & Ask, Mirror, Explore, Reinforce/Refocus

It is the Swiss Army Knife of communication tools. You can use this tool in almost every situation. Here are additional simple communication tools that make the Ultimate Communication Multi-tool even more powerful. 

Tool #1 - Stop, Look, Listen

When I was in elementary school a police officer would come every year to give the Safety Talk. I sat on the front row in the 1st grade and was all ears. He was an imposing figure and spoke with a booming voice. “Before you cross the street,” he said, “Stop - Look – Listen.” It’s also great advice for helping people transition from one stage of growth to the next. The signs for helping people grow are all around you – what people say, what they do. Many leaders, though, are so focused on results that they don’t stop long enough to focus on what’s right in front of their eyes or listen to what is implied in people’s comments. You are always a better leader when you Stop-Look-Listen. 

Tool #2 – Most Toward, Not Away From

Growth requires becoming an explorer. You must become curious about the people on your team. What makes them tick? What are their patterns? How do they think? It’s IMPOSSIBLE to help someone grow without connecting with them. The first step in connecting is moving toward the person and the situation instead of avoiding it or moving away from it. When you see growth, move toward it. Explore it. When you see struggle and failure, do the same.

Tool #3 – Observe Instead of Judge

This may be the most important tool of all. The tendency for most people is to judge situations.  We see something and we immediately make assumption about the situation or people involved. Without really knowing what happened or why it happened, we start framing up the situation to “fix it.”

Here’s the problem with judging people and situations. When you judge people and situations, you put blinders on. You only see what you want to see.  As a result, you limit your ability to help the person grow. Stop judging and start observing and you might discover the key thing that can accelerate growth in your team members. 

Tool #4 – Think Liberating/Limiting Instead of Good/Bad, Positive/Negative

Most of us have been conditioned to think about things, situations, and people as positive or negative, good or bad. Do you realize that these are actually judgmental terms? While we all want our behaviors to be “good or positive,” no one wants their behavior to be identified as “bad or negative.”  Try these words instead - liberating or limiting. What people do and say either liberates them to grow and excel or limits their ability to grow and excel. These 2 questions are useful: 

How is that behavior or communication liberating the person to grow? How is this behavior or communication limiting their ability to grow?

Tool #5 - Ask Instead of Tell

This last tool connects back to The Ultimate Communication Multi-Tool. The minute you stop “telling” and start “asking,” you open the door for discussion, observation, exploration, and growth.

The more you apply these 5 simple communication tools the quicker you will connect with your team. The more you connect, the faster you identify paths for growth. The more you help people grow the more everyone becomes engaged. The path is not complicated – just demanding.



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