I saw a tweet on George Washington’s approach to leadership, which was: Listen, learn, and help; then lead.
- Listen. When entering a situation, many of us will try to share our competencies and strengths immediately. We want the new people to know our capabilities. But Washington says to hold your tongue. Open your ears. Spend some quality time getting the lay of the land before speaking up.
- Learn. Listening sets you up to learn. As you gather some facts and observations, you form assumptions and opinions. The learning stage involves you testing things out. You begin to ask questions. You seek common understanding. You learn what you need to know more about and what you have to contribute.
- Help. Once you see how you can contribute and verify the contribution will be received, you help. You lean in. You demonstrate your value. You model good teamwork.
- Lead. Not every situation leads to leadership, but having demonstrated your competency as a listener, a learner, and a helper, it shouldn’t be surprising to see leadership opportunities arise.
You’ve got to be a model before you’re a leader. Washington’s mature approach bears consideration.