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The question every leader should be asking

Have you met anyone lately that is not happy with their role or position in the workplace or on their team?

Chances are you have. A recent Gallup poll reported 70% of Americans feel unhappy, uninspired, and less engaged in their job.

The scary part is those feelings are causing underperformance and, thus, costing organizations billions.

Have you ever asked them “why” they’re so unhappy?

In my experience, the answer usually has to do with their fearless leader. In fact, I received two calls last week from friends that said just that.

Unfortunately, I can relate. I distinctly remember my days as an employee under poor leadership.

There were many of them.

Those days included poor communication and an overall lack of empathy from my leader.

I did have one particular positive experience with a leader that I want to share with you. There’s a golden nugget in it for you.

This experience came a day after I received the chilling call from my mom, telling me she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

I was beyond devastated. The last thing I wanted to do was sit in my Merrill Lynch office that morning, amidst the 2008 recession.

My direct report at the time, Justin Breece, noticed something was off. Instead of writing my lack of focus off as a bad day for me, he did something that I will never forget.

He asked me a question.

“You good?”

Two words. One simple question.

Fighting back tears, I gave him the truth: “NO.”

At that moment, he learned everything about what was going on with me and why I wasn’t all there. He told me to leave the office and go home.

That’s exactly what I wanted to do. What I desperately needed to do.

Managers, Leaders, Coaches…may I get real for a minute?

When is the last time you asked those you lead – personally and professionally – if they’re “good”?

If you can’t remember, that’s a problem.

You’re missing an opportunity to unearth the root cause of your subordinate’s underperformance.

You’re missing an opportunity to develop a trusting relationship.

Most importantly, you’re missing an opportunity to help.

The first thing I do when facilitating Level 10 Meetings with my clients is ask them to share something that is going on in their life – good or bad, personal or professional.

What this does is it creates context heading into the meeting. And, when everyone in the room has this context, an environment of empathy fills it. There is no room for assumptions.

Go ahead and give the question a shot. You won’t regret it.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this.

You good?

I’d love to hear how your interactions are going with those you lead. Please feel free to share in the comments section below or contact me directly.

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J.R.'s work is ground-breaking. It goes completely against the grain and helps you think completely outside
the box and communicate. He's a leader. He's one of the best leaders I've ever seen. – Micah McAdams, Leader of Houston H2C Baseball
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