Leaders: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

Smarter Than 5th GraderIn the television program, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader,” adults match wits with fifth graders to elementary-level questions. Often times, the adults lose at answering these basic questions to the fifth grade contestants.

“So, do you think you can beat fifth graders at knowing the answers to fundamental questions regarding what it takes to be an effective leader?”

Fifth Grade Sunday School

I was attending a service this morning at our church and the priest asked a question of the fifth grade students who were in charge of this service.

“When you think of leaders what do you expect them to be like?”

Their responses included:

  • Role models
  • Respectful
  • Thoughtful of others
  • Loyal
  • Follow the rules
  • Loving
  • Caring
  • Honest
  • Listen to others
  • Direct others to do what’s right

I was quite impressed with what they shared and it really got me to thinking…

“If they as fifth graders understand some of the expectations of a leader, do we as leaders understand what others truly expect of us? Have we asked?  Have we truly listened?

Listening is not a skill set every leader is stellar at. Remember, with two ears and one mouth we have twice the chance to listen before we speak.

“Who can you listen to today?”

How to Improve Your Listening Skills

Positively Impact Your Leadership and Your Business In a Variety of Ways

Improving your listening skills is a continuous process that yields multiple benefits:

  • Listening is the undiscovered leadership skill if you want to influence employees.
  • Listening creates relationships, particularly in “upward communication.”
  • Listening builds high-performance teams and encourages people to achieve their full potential.
  • Better listening skills can reduce negative interactions that can be a detriment to employee relations.
  • Good listening can result in less paper work, fewer memos, and shorter meetings.
  • Listening builds and strengthens employee relationships.
  • Listening eliminates the “emotional filters” that prevent us from truly understanding each other.

The flow of communication within an organization can improve greatly, just by making people aware of how important it is to listen.

“Luckily, listening is a skill that can be learned.”

Next time you get into a conversation with someone, see if you can implement the following good listening strategies:

  • Listen first, and then speak.
  • Be aware if you start cutting off the speaker mid-sentence or mid-thought.
  • If you feel the need to interrupt, pause and count to 10 before responding.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions before you have heard the whole message. People often think they already know what the person is going to say before the sentence is finished.
  • Keep an open mind and be flexible to others’ ideas.
  • Release your need to be right.

“The problem with communication is the illusion that is has occurred.” ~George Bernard Shaw

Ask and You Shall Receive

So if you can, ask the right questions and truly listen to the answer you receive, not the answer you want to hear.

Then determine if you can:

  • Use the information you collect and digest to better understand your teams’ needs?
  • Enhance your relationships and loyalty of those you lead by converting information to practical and meaningful application?

I strongly believe the answer will be yes.

“What other things do you expect from yourself as a leader or your leaders?”

The key to success is what you do next with that information you have collected.

  • How do you then implement any suggestions they have shared with you?
  • What if you don’t have the skill sets or the power to execute on the ideas?

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ~Vince Lombardi

You don’t have to accomplish everything on your own. I am confident if you take the collective responses and empower the team to support you as you enhance your personal leadership, you will create the trust, loyalty, and commitment you want and desire to be a very effective leader.

…A leader even fifth graders will admire.

So, are you smarter than a fifth grader? Do you make your role as a leader too complicated, or do you keep it as simple as fifth graders see it? Is your leadership living up to these simple expectations? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626

Image Sources: tommyland

One response to “Leaders: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

  1. Pingback: Awe (a mindful leadership blog) « Linked 2 Leadership·

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