Leadership Skill Development Training

Chapter 15

Your leadership skill development plan must include having a clear understanding and appreciation for the power of observation. Successful people are constantly observing what other successful people do. They understand how having a trained eye can help to unleash their full potential.

observation skills

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A famous preacher who was well known for his powerful sermons was once asked how he was able to deliver such eloquence every week. The preacher replied, “I keep my eyes open and I ask a lot of questions.”

Abraham Lincoln was another remarkable example of the possibilities one has to develop a great intelligence through intense observation. He was continually focused on leadership skill development and was known for stopping and questioning most things. Whatever the subject, he listened with care and then proceeded to question the subject fully.

Lincoln determined that everything he saw must give up its secret before he would let it go. He had a true passion for knowledge; he yearned to know the meaning of things and the philosophy behind them.

The keen observer who constantly seeks to improve in their leadership skill development has a strong advantage over his peers. The observer is always on the hunt for opportunity. He listens intently, all the while processing in his mind the various scenarios by which he might add value to others and advance forward.

"Close observation is a powerful mental process that great leaders possess."

The observer is always accumulating knowledge of every kind. He does not merely look with his eyes, he sees with his eyes. He keeps his ears open. He keeps his mind open to all that is new, fresh and to the benefit of others. He seeks to piece together the snippets of valuable information that can be used to create new ways of helping others and in turn, profit from his inventions.

Unfortunately, most people do not always include the power of observation in their leadership skill development plan. They are too intent upon moving on to the next thing. Great leaders realize the majority of people do not see things; they just quickly scan them, providing a great advantage to the one who does fully observe all sides of a situation.

Intense observation is a skill to be developed. It takes effort to not only look with the eyes, but to also see with the mind. Thought, is work – it takes effort. In return for this effort, the observer learns more rapidly and becomes more in tune with his or her true surroundings and potential opportunities.

All things being equal it is the observer who acts upon his opportunities that gets ahead more quickly. As an example, imagine going into any store with the intention of seeking opportunities that the store owner could take advantage of to improve his business.

Let nothing escape you as you wander the store isles. Study the employees; assess their manners and how they interact with their customers. Review the cleanliness of the establishment; is it clean? How about the inventory; are the shelves nicely arranged and well stocked? Evaluate the atmosphere; is it warm, upbeat and welcoming?

If any of the above areas of a business can benefit from improvement, then that is your opportunity.

Competition is based on one's ability to take advantage of other's weaknesses and fill the void that means something to the customers. Price is not always the determining factor to the customer. Many are willing to pay a premium in exchange for a high-value experience.

Get in the habit of observing and evaluating others. With regular effort you will quickly become more aware of what makes other men and women succeed or fail.

"Observation, along with a clear purpose, pave the way to progress and promotion."

A key message of our executive coaching program is that no matter where you go, take time to study the situation. Think through why those you come in contact with are doing well; or how they have allowed themselves to become swallowed up in mediocrity.

As part of your leadership skill development efforts, make mental notes about what you observe and vow not to make the same mistakes as others have made. Seek out patterns of success and make efforts to copy them. Identify patterns of disappointments and adjust your ways so that you will avoid making the same errors.

Few people realize the tremendous power of successfully training their eyes and ears to better partner with their mind. The secret of a richly stored mind is remaining alert, sorting out the facts and making highly thoughtful decisions.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are a leader."

- John Quincy Adams

Leadership Skill Development Activities

Complete the following exercises...

  1. In your next meeting, take the time to fully observe the presenter. Assess how well this person prepared for the presentation. Did she have a firm grasp of the material, answering questions with confidence? Was she able to effectively work the room and get the audience engaged? Did you learn valuable information that you could use to be more effective in your role? 

  2. After completing the above exercise, explain what you believe to be the benefits of becoming a keen observer? Do you see value in being an intentional observer? 

  3. Are you satisfied with your current level of observation of others? If not, how will you work to improve this area of your leadership skill development plan? Explain what you need to do differently in order to gain better results in the future.

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