Several weeks ago, I asked those with me if they had any specific leadership questions that they would like me to address. We received so many great responses, but I felt these three were strong leadership questions we should all be asking of ourselves and thinking about right now.

Is unity possible right now. If so, how do we achieve it? 

This is incredibly appropriate, give what happened recently at the Capitol. Even so, my answer is yes! We can have unity, but we also should recognize that it is difficult right now.  

Unity means we all agree.  I don’t think such agreement is possible in politics, parenthood, friendship or leadership.  However, we CAN and SHOULD have civility when we are not in unison.  We must be able to disagree while respecting the other person for his or her opinion. 

As for our President’s call for unity?  His speech was wonderful, and it made me cry, which is no easy task.  His intent was to unite the country, and I applaud him for his efforts.  However, to me his speech would have been more effective if he focused on civility and respect, not unity.   Democracy is constructed so that we can disagree in a civil manner and then vote (or elect others to vote for) our opinion.  Therefore, I frankly disagree that a call for unity in politics is the right goal.  It can be interpreted by those who disagree with a particular point of view that if they don’t agree they are anti-American.  Civil disagreement, not unity, should be our goal. Let’s allow a respectful and properly executed demcratic process produce the opinion of  the majority

I had a really good conversation with one of my daughters about unity recently. Politically we differ, yet we had a really healthy, constructive conversation  once we decided our goal was civility and understanding. Here are a few tips that we learned by having this conversation, and I hope they are helpful to you.

1: Start the conversation by trying to find common ground, not looking at your differences.

I think a couple of ways to achieve that include staying away from labels—, like conservative/liberal or Democrat/Republican. Try to speak specifically about issues, not labels. 

2: Ask why over and over again, why do you feel this way? 

Why are you angry? Where are your facts? Why? And the more you ask why, you will get at the root of their feelings. By doing that this, you arrive at the third tip, which is:

3: Seek to understand not to be understood. 

If we focus our time on understanding their position and repeating back to them, they will feel heard, and they will feel understood. Then you can express your view, and hopefully they will treat you with the same respect. Through it all, keep love at the center. It all starts and begins with love. 

4: If they are still angry, it may be time to move on.

If you’ve handled the matter this way, and the people with whom you are dealing are still angry, and they still won’t listen to you, maybe it’s time to move on and deal with another conversation. 

What advice do you have for upcoming college graduates on becoming effective leaders? 

#1 – Work hard! There’s no substitute for hard work when it comes to becoming a great leader. 

#2 –  Always try to do the highest quality work. Working hard is one thing, but producing high quality work is another. 

#3 – Always bring solutions to your boss or your leader, not problems. This will test your thinking. As a more seasoned leader, I’m looking for people to bring me solutions, not problems. From there, I can test their thinking with Socratic questions and test their thinking. Starting with this mentality will take you far as a young professional.

#4 – Pay attention to what happens inside of you. When the person for whom you work shares feedback that you don’t like, or things at work frustrate you, it’s probably more about you than the other person. I operated this way for too long. I blamed others for making me angry when the truth was it was something going on inside of me.

Pay attention to those cues you’re receiving, because you’ll learn a lot about yourself, and you’ll develop faster as a leader.

Who is the most impactful leader you’ve had in your life? 

I simply can’t narrow it to one, so I’ll share two. The first and most important leader is Jesus. Through reading the Bible, learning the principles of His love, and coming to the realization that love is the answer, I’ve been so profoundly transformed; this is a change that has occurred from the inside out over the past several decades. Even 2000 years ago, when He was in the Roman empire, Jesus still communicated a really radical answer that love does work in every area and situation in life.

Secondly, Jack Herschend is someone who has also impacted me in so many ways. Jack is the one who taught me that love can work in a competitive work environment. He showed me that if you care for people and treat them with kindness and respect, you can have a really, really successful business. Jack always cared about me as an individual, and we still talk once a month. 

I’m grateful to Jack for being such an incredible mentor to me.  I advise developing leaders to find someone who can mentor you if you don’t already have one. The impact can be life-changing!

I welcome any other leadership questions that are on your mind. Feel free to share in the comments below.

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