Are You an Asker or a Teller?

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Leaders tend to either “ask” more, or “tell” more. Sometimes they do neither, and keep their opinion to themselves. These differences in personality all have particular strengths, but lean too far in any of these directions, and your problems with connection can occur.

One leader leans too strongly to connect, and is experienced as too mushy, with no back bone.

Another leader is always telling and taking strong positions, and comes as an arrogant know-it-all.

Very quiet leaders may seem either overly pliable, or distant and arrogant.

Effective leadership is about balancing these possibilities.

People often know where they fall in this description, whether it’s that they are very connected and don’t express many strong opinions, too distant and extremely opinionated, or some other combination of these traits. Some need to work more on the soft skills of listening, empathy, and story telling; others may need to push themselves to take a position, and share an opinion and idea.

Once you know yourself, you can more quickly sense what to do next in any particular moment. If you’re an opinionated “teller,” you can assume that next time you’re struggling to connect with someone, leading from the heart, or asking a good question is likely the most prudent path. If you’re someone who connects well, but you find yourself nodding and asking questions all through a conversation or meeting, it might be time to float some opinions.

The ultimate goal of this work is to make effective connections, stay curious, state thoughts and feelings, and honor all perspectives.

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