5 Keys to really knowing your people

Beyond the techniques into the heart of things

As I mentioned in another blog post, we would suggest that there are four critical aspects of Care that need to be demonstrated for the leader's heart to become fully known. The four are Know, Connect, Provide and Protect. Let's look at the first one in greater detail.

To know and be known. To love and be loved. At the heart of the matter, that's what all of us want. It's important to us. It gives us great security and significance. It provides the safety to risk and succeed.

There are many techniques that help in knowing people. Asking good questions. Active listening. "Walking the floors." Team building exercises. Shared challenges and experiences. Understanding our different personalities and preferences through various assessment tools. All are helpful.

However, I find that for many of us there is a deeper issue that blocks us from knowing others as we should. It's not so much about technique (although we could all use a wider repertoire of skills here). It's about how we see others.

When I look at those I lead, how do I view them? What are those underlying presuppositions that shape my behavior toward them?

For me, I've come to the realization that every person is God's highest creation (see Genesis 1:27,28) fallen though they may be. As such, I believe there are certain things that are true of them and implications that impact me in terms of getting to know them or not.

1. Every person has inherent value. Do I agree with that? Is that important enough to me to treat every person with dignity and respect? What would that look like on a day-to-day basis? To treat everyone as a friend. As a neighbor. As a valued teammate. Based more on who they are than how they behave.

2. Every person has a story to tell. Do I want to know it? The fact is, every person is interesting. They have paid a heavy price for their story. There have been successes and failures. Battles won and lost. Lessons learned. Everyone is in process. How can I draw that out?

3. Every person has a contribution to make. Do I want them to make it? Every person is unique and has something that only he or she can contribute. Their gifting. Their perspective. Their cautions. Am I seeking to know and draw out their strengths and empowering them to use them?

4. Every person has an aspiration that motivates them. Do I want them to achieve it? As former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, said, "Most people die with their music locked up within them." We are more than our work. Our dreams have an impact on our performance. What do we lose if we don't know their music?

5. Every person has insecurities that limit them. Do I want to know the real person beyond the insecurities? Do I move toward them or keep them at arm's length? Am I wanting mere conformation or genuine transformation?

Caring for those we lead begins with Knowing Them. And really it begins with me, with my starting points in how I view them.

How do you see those your leadership arena?

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