It was an interesting situation. I had given directions for a team building activity. The directions are purposely pretty vague and it is up to the groups to figure out how to accomplish the task. Throughout the brief description certain covert clues are given that, if listening, help the groups to know what to do. In fact, it’s pretty simple, if you’re listening.
After the directions were given. One group, under the direction of one individual, began to work out the problem. There were a lot of questions and the leader quickly took charge trying answer everyone with his own thoughts. There was a lot of confusion, some frustration; as the leader began to make everyone conform to their ideas. It was interesting and I was watching them closely until I was interrupted.
A leader from another group had quieted his group’s clamor of questions and asked them to wait for a minute. He then approached me for clarification. I made the clarification and they completed the challenge quickly. This leader was listening and knew the key to solving the problem was simply to ask me for the information I had previously left out.
The first group continued their frustration with several members just giving up and becoming observers. There was quite a contentious scene brewing and I was about to step in when when one of that group’s members notice the other group was finished and enjoying the fruits of their labor. It was brought to the leader’s attention. A little embarrassed he approached the other team and asked how they figured it out so quickly. The second group responded, almost as one, “We asked him,” pointing at me.
Great leaders listen intently and ask questions.
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