While they may not say it out loud, many leaders feel like they don’t have time to develop the people they work with. This underscores a fundamental misunderstanding of leadership development. Developing leaders doesn’t always necessitate long hours of teaching and instruction.
Every day we’re surrounded by small golden opportunities to develop the leaders around us. But if we aren’t looking we’ll miss them. They come in the form of a short conversation in the hallway, a quick pop in the office Q and A session, or a casual exchange in the middle of a ministry event. These “teachable moments” can take place every day if we simply take the time to look for them.
So how do we recognize them? Teachable moments tend to come when someone is struggling with a task, project or person. These struggles create feelings of fear, anger, frustration, disappointment or discouragement. And there’s no doubt people are most teachable when they’re experiencing these types of heightened emotions. So when you see their struggle engage their emotions by asking questions that stir thinking. Ask, listen, then carefully provide the coaching they need to help them get past the barriers they’re facing. For example ask: What’s causing your frustration? What have you done about it so far? What’s not working? What are your options? What’s your next step? These types of questions help them wrestle through their situation. Then follow up by asking: What’s the leadership lesson we can learn from this experience? In these golden moments of opportunity you identify their challenge, coach them in how to handle it and reinforce a leadership principle, and often times this can all be done in a matter of five minutes.
While I may not be able to remember the specifics of the circumstances I do know it was in emotional moments like these that key leadership principles were branded into my mind.
This Weeks Leadership Challenge: Look for and sieze one of these 5 minute teachable moments with someone you lead.