Category Archives: Leadership

The Power of the “Ask”

Challenging most, if not all of us, is an internal battle over how we often assume on others their motive or reasons rather than ask directly.  I suspect we tend to default to assumptions more commonly, which raises the question of why. What in us compels us to focus on imaginings rather than offered truth from the source? Our reasons are likely varied and usually justified in our minds. As leaders, however, I believe this key internal battle needs addressing towards a different approach for the sake of those we lead. Assuming leads to mistrust from others, while asking questions honors and elevates their perspective as valuable in the matter.

So, what goes into a good and healthy “ask”? First, our intention to listen towards understanding is a must. Going through the motions to feign value for their explanation creates greater mistrust when it becomes obvious their input didn’t matter in our subsequent actions.  If you find yourself not really interested in understanding, take some time to step back and reflect as to why. Only move forward with questioning when you can honestly work from that motivation.

Second, the specific kind of “ask” you offer is important. Clear, direct and honoring questions have a way of bringing what is valued to the forefront for both you who are asking and those who are responding. In most circumstances, an “ask” that is more open-ended gives greater opportunity for the responder to give their own thoughts without any type of “answer-prompting”. At a core relational level, asking for one’s perspective to help you understand them reflects your respect for them. Doing so consistently serves as connection points of trust-building that supports deepening relationship through time and circumstances. Impactful leaders understand this truth and make it a priority in their leadership culture.

The following are a few examples of “asks” (i.e. open-ended questions) that can help bring understanding…

  • “Can you help me understand your reaction just now to what I said?”
  • “What are your thoughts on the directions/choices I just presented?”
  • “Would you elaborate more about __________?”
  • “What am I missing in your explanation?”
  • “How do you see us moving forward?”
  • “How does the process work now?”
  • “What kind of challenges are you facing in this circumstance?”
  • “What is your most important priority to you with this and why?
  • “You used the term(s) ________________. Can you explain what that means to you?”
  • “You said you are frustrated – can you share with me what has caused this?”

As you relate to others, think about the times you assume on other’s motives or actions. Purpose to instead use the power of the “Ask”.  Doing so builds meaningful relationships of trust and honor with those you serve and further esteems the value of authentic honesty.

Mark Francis


Negative Feedback as a Growth Gift?

Responses, or personal feedback, to our attitudes and actions come daily to all of us. While we all enjoy the positive ones, we can be less welcoming of those that come with disappointment, pain, questions or even anger. However, if we value personal growth at any level, cultivating our skills to find a “growth nugget” from any feedback encounter, regardless of how it comes or from whom, enhances our capacity for positive and helpful change. The ability to do this consistently means practicing the art of discoveryseparation and embracement for feedback responses, even the hard ones. I know what you may be thinking — do all responses have meaningful nuggets I can grow from? I would suggest most do, depending on how we handle the feedback. Keep reading to see what I mean.

Initially, we must first believe in the presence of and then search for a specific meaning in the core content of a response. What attitudes or actions in me are they reacting to and why? Connecting that back to our own role in the matter reflects discovery. Once identified, you now have a personal “growth” purpose for the response beyond how it was offered. What can I change? How can I do it different? These and other key questions can serve you with specifics towards improvement or change.

Now realizing a discovered meaning, separating this meaning from the way a response comes becomes important. It’s easy to dismiss feedback based on accompanying emotions, how its offered, or even who it comes from. Easy, but perhaps wasteful. How so? A response offered to inflict some negative impact on you does so if you judge it solely on this intent. However, if you find meaning despite this intent, rather than being diminished by the negative, you are rather enhanced by a greater opportunity to grow and change. In essence, you transform a negative intent to a positive outcome. Now comes the final action – Embrace.

Having a capacity to embrace a “growth nugget” in whatever form it comes creates a perspective within you to see and experience life differently. Certainly pain, disfunction, and brokenness surround all of us in many forms. But, we decide their defining impact upon our own hearts, minds and attitudes every day. Choosing to embrace a new way of seeing myself through these discovered nuggets for growth puts the emphasis on my personal change rather than the response itself. I then can emerge strengthened, encouraged and transformed for the better. And maybe, just maybe, I also can come to see others for the treasure they possess despite their present condition. Would we not want the same consideration?

Discoveringseparating and then embracing a deeper personal truth in feedback is a choosing to see myself through the eyes of others so that I can increase my self-awareness and make changes in my life AND for the benefit of others. Applying this skill values my personal growth as well as contributes to positively impacting the “others” in my life, friend or foe. What a gift I can give myself and to others!  Is that a personal legacy you want to build? If so, value feedback for what it can be – a gift!


Cultural Legacy

Each and every one of us are building an impactful history, or legacy, on a daily basis. Every decision we make, each conversation we take part in, the actions we repeat, and the values we hold to all contribute to the individual culture, or relational environment, we create for ourselves and those who walk the path with us. What lasting impact or mark on the world do I want to leave? If not by our design, the answer will lie in what we practice day in and day out, more specifically how others feel around us. Impactful, life-giving leaders who leave a legacy that lives on after them treasure those around them through mutual honor and respect. They live as a leader motivated by humble honor, willing to serve so that others can discover their own worth and make their unique contribution in their sphere of influence. Whatever our organizational description we are a part of, it serves in many ways as simply the backdrop for building cultural legacy that endures, calling those after us to a higher road. What marks your legacy?


Undiscovered Treasures

One of the roles, I believe, for leaders is to search and discover the “undiscovered treasures” of personnel that surround us. Too many times we label personnel based on their history or second-hand reports as to the strengths and skills they possess. The worse part is when they start believing it. Yet, as leaders, we can make a difference and change this outcome. Through intentional attention to seek out the hidden gifts of personnel, our voice can become the defining one for others where encouragement, hope and fulfillment mark the outcome. Is this the voice you want to have? Me too. If you desire another encourager to walk with you along the way, please contact me.


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