(From CNN), Written by Marcia Reynolds — The best leaders make us feel unsure
This may sound counterintuitive. Aren’t leaders
are supposed to build confidence? At times,
encouraging people is effective.
Other times, when people are stuck seeing
things one way or they are resistant to change,
creating a little discomfort in the conversation
could help them grow.
People need you to help them think through
difficult issues even though they don’t feel
comfortable in the process.
It is very difficult for any of us to question our
beliefs and behaviors.
Our brain’s protective instinct keeps us from in-
depth self-exploration. We can only see “outside
the box” when we read or hear something that
surprises our brains.
The best way to help people see outside the box
to objectively consider their circumstances is to
listen to how they describe their situation,
reflect on what they are saying, and then ask
questions that cause them to review their
thoughts and behavior.
If your words break through their protective
barriers, the moment will feel awkward. They
might feel a pinch of anger, embarrassment, or
sadness when their blind spot is revealed. Then
Generating insights create
breakthroughs in thinking.
To create these breakthrough
moments, try the DREAM model. It is
a coaching approach where you
encourage the person to talk as you
listen for clues—gaps in logic, faulty
assumptions, fears, attachments to
the past, and conflicting values—that
could be blocks to seeing the way
forward. You then share what you
hear and you sense, allowing the
person to accept or reject your
The point is to help the person to
think, not to change him or her. This
coaching approach creates a two-
sided conversation where the
recipient feels respected. The steps
D: Determine what the person wants
as a desired outcome of the
conversation. Help the person to
define what they want, not what you
want for them.
Do they want to be seen by others as
a leader? Do they want more respect
from their peers? Do they want to
feel less stressed? Determine what is
in the conversation for them so you
can then move toward achieving this
R: Reflect on the experiences, beliefs and
When you listen and clarify what you hear,
people feel heard and understood. Then you can
help them sort out truth from speculation,
instantly giving them a view of what else might
E: Explore possible sources of blind spots and
resistance. Ask about the desires,
disappointments, and fears you sense they are
Don’t worry about long pauses between your
questions and their response. It takes a moment
for blind spots to come to light.
A: Acknowledge the emerging awareness.
Have the other person clearly articulate the key
takeaways. Many people will stop and say,
“Wow, I had not thought about it that way
before,” or “Yes, I see what you mean” and
then plunge forward with a solution.
Acknowledging their “aha” insight reinforces their
M: Make sure there’s a plan or commitment for
what’s next. Ask the person what they will now
do and when they will do it.
Even if they say they have to take some time to
think about what they discovered, ask how they
will do this and what impact their new thinking
will have on the desired outcome they defined
when you started the conversation.
When reflecting, exploring, and acknowledging,
quiet your judgmental brain and refrain from
jumping in and giving the person advice. The
Discomfort Zone is full of tips and examples on
how to use the process in your conversations.
The best advice: They want you to be present
more than they need you to be perfect!