The Twelve Principles of Leadership: Principle Three

During a twelve-day period of time, I will be posting daily one of the Twelve Principles of Quality Leadership followed by some questions you, as a leader, may wish to ask yourself.

Hopefully the description and inquiry will cause you to think about how you lead and what you may need to do to improve your leadership.

 And don’t forget to post some commentary. It can be a learning process for us all.

Welcome aboard!

THE TWELVE PRINCIPLES OF QUALITY LEADERSHIP

Systems, Leadership, and Teams

QUESTIONS FOR LEADERS

SYSTEMS

Principle 3.  BELIEVE THAT THE BEST WAY TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF WORK OR SERVICE IS TO ASK AND LISTEN TO EMPLOYEES WHO ARE DOING THE WORK.

As supervisors and managers we do not do the frontline work.  We depend on others to do the job of responding directly to the customers; the citizens of our city.  It has been a long time since most of us have performed this job.  Therefore, we depend on the men and women who do this job to tell us what they need to do get the job done.  As bosses, one of the most important things we can do for our employees is to ask them what they need and listen to what they have to say.  Listening is the difficult part for those of us who have spent years learning how to tell people what to do.  Active listening is a skill that can be learned and developed.  Using the inquiry process, which is asking the right questions, is also a skill that can be learned. Quality leaders refrain from telling; they ask the right questions, how do you know that?  What have you learned through this effort?  What kind of help do you need from me?  The power of this is that an individual comes to his/her own solution with the help – not direction – of the leader.  Listening and questioning are important skills to develop as a supervisor or manager.  Employees want bosses who are willing to listen and we need employees who will honestly tell us about what’s going on.

QUESTIONS

a. What are the characteristics of a good listener?

b. How do you know when someone is really listening to you?

c. Why do leaders need to ask and listen?

d. Why is listening such an important leadership skill?

[From The New Quality Leadership Workbook, by Couper and Lobitz. To be published this year.]