Visionary leaders are always talking about the vision. They address issues to stay focused on the mission that leads to the vision. And they understand the importance of values for decision-making. But not all visionary leaders are respected.
Respected leaders have learned the value of perceptiveness. They have learned to notice details, always observing, and asking good questions – the right questions – to understand the world around them.
As a differentiating value, Perceptiveness means discernment or insight; a feeling of understanding; attaining awareness. Leaders who embrace this value learn to discern.
The roadblock to perceptiveness
Isn’t every leader gifted with perceptive abilities? No.
There’s a serious roadblock for each one of us to become effective in perceptiveness – ourselves. We tend to see others, and the experiences of others, through the lens of our own experiences and ourselves.
So how do you perceive yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where are you knowledgeable, and where are you ignorant?
The answers to these questions may tell you a lot about how you perceive others.
For example, if you are a trusting person, you will perceive others as trusting. If you are a negative person, you will perceive others as negative.
So how do you train yourself to overcome this roadblock?
Training yourself in perceptiveness
As Carl Jung stated “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” So know yourself first.
As I wrote previously, there is tremendous value in spending time in reflective thinking and understanding the enhanced view of yourself – how others see you, how you think others see you, and how you see yourself.
So what tends to set you off the most? What’s the best way to make you happy? Learning our own natural bias is the beginning of perceptiveness. It’s important to find the balance point in your own judgment.
Once you know your natural bias, the rest of the training comes from asking the right questions.
Now, the list of possible questions is endless. The right question depends on the circumstances, your relationship with the people involved, and the desired outcome. But there are a few common ones to get you started.
7 questions asked by a perceptive leader
Considering those you lead, either directly or indirectly, here are a few broadly based questions that may help expand the value of perceptiveness.
1) What would they say is going well right now?
2) What would they say is not going well right now?
3) What are they enjoying right now?
4) What are they not enjoying right now?
5) If they could change just one thing, what would it be?
6) If they could improve just one thing, what would it be?
7) What issue is clearly obvious that they seem to be ignoring?
The popular saying is still true: “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Respected leaders show they care by being observant, asking good questions, and listening carefully. That’s the value of perceptiveness.
What other questions help a leader improve their perceptiveness?