Monday, July 15, 2013

The Most Powerful Leadership Question

Every leader desires to be the most effective leader he can be, but in order to make a lasting impact, he must commit to supporting all students and staff.  Nothing is more aggravating to employees than encountering a difficult situation and having the leader come up, look at the situation, tell you what's wrong and then wishing you luck in solving the problem as he walks away.  This type of leadership behavior is more affective than effective, and I don't mean that in a good way.

Employees are looking to their leaders for guidance, support and service.  The leader has a choice to make.  Get involved or watch the person's commitment dissolve.  In order for leaders to truly get involved and generate increased productivity and commitment to the organization, it all boils down to one powerful yet simple question consisting of 4 little words?

"How Can I Help" conveys 5 Things:
  • Belief in helping all staff and all kids in any way possible. 
  • Understanding that support and service are a leader's 1st two priorities
  • A natural desire to help make the teacher and kids be successful. 
  • No job or task is beneath the leader.  He or she will do anything to help his fellow staff member.
  • Leadership is not about title or position.  It is about support, guidance and service.

"How Can I Help" can be hollow if Leaders...
  • Ask the question but fail to deliver.
  • Never get back to the person who asked for help.
  • Say they will deliver, but have no intentions of getting the job done.
  • Never report back the results of what they did to help.
  • Never check to see if what they did helped.

There are all kinds of strategies that leaders employ to be successful, but the best leaders know that their number one job is to solicit information and input to make the entire organization better. The only way this can occur is to constantly be looking for ways to help the very people that you lead. Helping others is one of the highest leverage skills that a leader can employ.  Clarifying expectations, actively listening, giving direction, relieving unnecessary stress and working side by side with staff are just a few ways that leaders can help.  

People don't follow position.  They follow character.  They follow selflessness, and they follow leaders whose actions demonstrate service to others.  "How Can I Help" is the best question to generate the highest degree of belief in a leader.

So how do you help those you lead?


  1. Great post! When a principal is sweeping the floor after lunch to get the gym ready for volleyball you know they are a real leader.

  2. Certainly think it helps to show people you are interested in their work and are always available to help them when they really need it. Solving their problems for them without their input/suggestions and doing their work for them clearly wouldn’t be good for either individual or the organisation though.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, your passion for real leadership is very evident and inspiring! 
    Leadership Development

  4. This is so true, leading is more about serving.