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The Heart of the Leader: Meeting People Where They Are

As leaders seeking personal and professional growth, coaching has become an invaluable tool for individuals seeking to unlock their full potential and is something that can be extended to the leader’s team members. At Origin Coaching, we understand that everyone embarks on their unique journey, facing distinctive challenges and aspirations. That's why we embrace a core principle that is fundamental to leadership: "Meeting People Where They Are."

This philosophy can be the bedrock upon which you as a leader build strong, trust-based relationships with individuals at all levels, including your team members, by helping people achieve their goals and overcome obstacles. Whether you have a formal leader position, or not, this approach can help you. In this blog, we'll explore what it means to meet people where they are and why it's so crucial in leadership.

Latest Leadership Buzz? "Meeting people where they are" is more than just a catchphrase – it's a guiding principle that can inform every aspect of our leadership approach. You may read this and ask, “are you telling me to give people a pass for poor behavior?” No. Meeting people where they are allows us to hold people accountable for growth and greater achievements while accepting what is. But what exactly does it entail?

Empathy It starts with empathy, which in fact, is a deep and sincere understanding of the other's feelings, thoughts, and perspectives. We strive to see the world through another’s perspective by intuitively listening to them and recognizing their unique experiences, opportunities, and challenges. When we acknowledge others with empathy, it not only fosters trust but also helps us tailor our communication approach to their specific needs. Practice: Listen to another person’s perspective and really put yourself in their place. Imagine what it must be like to feel what they are feeling. Now marry that with what you know about the person's strengths. Reflect what you heard with that in mind. For example, a situation with a team member who feels out of the loop. You may say something like “you are a person who values knowing someone has your back, and you have theirs. So, it must feel hard not to see that decision coming.” Non-Judgment Although we often brainstorm, share and tell our team what they need to know to do their work, effective coaching from a leader requires a portion of your leadership to be within a no-judgment zone. This means acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes, faces setbacks, and has their unique set of limitations. By removing judgment from the equation, we create a safe space for people to explore their part in the equation, leading to greater self-awareness and growth. Practice: Be curious. Agree on the accountability and expectations for the person, and then be curious about how they might be able to meet them. What support do they need from you, the organization, or others? What commitments might they be willing to make toward a goal? Respect This may seem obvious and is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. We respect each other as individuals with our own beliefs, values, and desires. By doing so, we honor another's autonomy and promote a sense of empowerment, allowing them to feel valued. Practice: Start with what you know about the person's skills and knowledge. Do they have all that is needed to meet objectives? If so, then trust them to know how to get there. In practicing non-judgement and curiosity, they may give you a response that isn’t exactly what you would do. That’s okay. If the approach will work, let them try and trust them in the process. If you feel they need a bit of course correction, do so by asking an open-ended question… How might you address this risk, or have you thought about…? Then trust the answer.

Why is this important?

Trust and Rapport: When people feel truly heard and understood, trust and rapport naturally develop. This trust is essential for open and honest communication, which paves the way for progress. Tailored Communication: By embracing the uniqueness of each person, we can tailor our approach to their specific needs, goals, and challenges. This customization maximizes the effectiveness of the relationship. Greater Self-Awareness: People who experience non-judgmental support and respect are more likely to delve deep into self-reflection. This increased self-awareness allows them to recognize their strengths and areas for growth. Improved Outcomes: Meeting people where they are not only improves the relationship but also results in more positive outcomes. People become more motivated and capable of making lasting changes when they feel valued and understood.

What should I watch out for? While the concept of meeting people where they are is vital in leadership, it's not without its challenges. Leaders must continually refine their skills in empathy, non-judgment, and respect. They must balance asking and telling - based upon the situation. They must also be aware of their own biases and preconceptions which may impede their ability to truly meet their people where they are. Additionally, team members themselves may resist this approach initially. They might be accustomed to being told expectations and provided detailed guidance or feel the need to present themselves in a certain way. It's the leader's role to create an environment where people explore and receive guidance.

How can I gain support? At Origin Coaching, I firmly believe that meeting people where they are can be the bridge that connects leaders and teams, allowing for profound growth. As a coach, I am privileged to accompany leaders like you on the journey to becoming inspirational and authentic. By truly understanding your unique perspectives, I empower you to overcome challenges, unlock your potential, and become the leaders you aspire to be. So, if you're ready to embark on a transformative journey, remember, we're here to meet you where you are – with empathy, non-judgment, and respect – and help you reach your goals. Your path is unique, and we're here to guide you every step of the way.

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