In speaking to a friend recently he was examining his leadership skills as it pertains to a small group he conducts at his house every week. He said, “No one comes regularly and they don’t talk or contribute when they do show up. In this day and time people, more than ever, will only make time for something that has value to them. Something that makes their life more interesting and enjoyable. Now if they don’t show up to some event they seem to feel the need to make excuses. Usually something like “Our grandparents are in town,” “Our kids have lots of homework,” “We have to stick needles in our eyes,” etc. In other words, “We just don’t want to come!” They probably spend an hour or two on Facebook that very night! Why? Because it has value to them and makes them feel like they have community.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

The more questions I asked the more I drilled down to some real problems and possible solutions. I learned that he (the leader) talks a lot during the group taking up precious time that could allow someone else to contribute to the discussion. He sets a negative tone about some topics which makes them feel like he’s going to apply that same behavior when reacting to something they say. They don’t feel safe to be open. Finally, he cancels meetings when he finds out someone isn’t coming sending the message to anyone that wants to come that they don’t matter. You get the picture.

Here is what I suggested to him-

Make it okay for people to give honest feedback

Call a meeting and make sure EVERYONE can be there. He should tell them that it’s very important because he wants to talk about the future of the group. Decide who is the loudest most opinionated person in the group and ask them first. Here’s how it would go: “Hey Bob, to improve our time together, I have some honest questions to ask the group. What do you think I need to do better as a leader?” Give him some choices. “Do I talk too much? Am I too negative? Am I expecting too much from you guys? Am I boring?” Give them permission to tell the truth. After he opens up the conversation the others will feel they can do the same. The key to this exercise is that my friend needs to BE OPEN. Open to honest, constructive criticism. Open to comments that may hurt his feelings and open to a challenge!

Being open can change your life

This meeting night could change the way he leads in his group, his personal and professional life. He may positively affect his people when they see that he is willing to be humble and listen. So at the end of the day we can ALL be better if we let others speak into our lives. Be Better and…BE OPEN!