I’m convinced each of us has immense leadership potential.
I’m also convinced most of us don’t realize our leadership potential because we don’t practice leadership behaviors consistently. Sigh.
One reason why we don’t practice is because it’s incredibly risky to try new behaviors at work. Today, I’m sharing three leadership behaviors I want you to practice. I’m also sharing three low-risk (and fun) ways to start practicing these behaviors.
1. Practice pushing back
Pushing back at work is challenging. Most of us lack the skill to do this well, especially if we’ve never had to do it before. Here’s a fun, low-stakes experiment that will help you build this skill.
Next time you’re at a restaurant and you don’t like where you’re seated, try requesting your server for a better table. What’s the worse that could happen? Worse case, you get rejected. Best case, you get what you want.
The trick is to take small, calculated risks in a low-stakes environment and slowly build up the courage to experiment at work.
2. Practice listening
Most of us are bad listeners. The good news is we can improve our listening skills. The bad news is no amount of blog posts will help if we don’t practice. Here’s one of my favorite listening drills.
Find a friend or someone in your family that you disagree with on a certain topic. Your task is to listen to them for two minutes without saying anything back or disagreeing with them. This sounds easy in theory, it’s anything but.
This exercise will teach you patience and strengthen your listening muscle. If you can learn to listen to people you disagree with, you’re going to supercharge your listening muscle. Remember: Listening does not imply agreeing.
3. Practice asking follow-up questions
Curiosity is a leadership superpower. One way to cultivate your curiosity is by asking questions before jumping and giving your two cents. Here’s a fun exercise for you.
Next time your friend/roommate/spouse shares what’s bothering them, don’t jump in and share your solution right away. Instead, ask them follow-up questions. Here are examples:
- “Tell me more”
- “This sucks. How did that make you feel?”
- “What else did they say?”
- “What happened next?”
If you’re dying to jump in and start giving advice, try this instead:
- “Would you like to hear what I think?”
- “Would you like a suggestion?”
When you ask questions before jumping in, two things happen:
- You make the other person feel heard.
- Your advice lands better because you have a better understanding of what they’re going through
Practicing leadership isn’t just confined to the workspace. If you look around, you’ll see opportunities to practice everywhere. The world is your leadership lab.