November 15, 2022

To Lead — Know What People Want

Audio Transcript

To lead people, we need to know what they want. Jesus modeled this by leading with questions, and He not only started His public leadership with questions, He started his leadership by asking, “What do you want?” —  even before He said, “Come and follow me.”

Jesus understood that knowing what people want, and helping them realize what they want is of utmost importance for leading people well.

Why is the question, “What do you want”’ so important in order to lead others — is there a more important question?

If it is the most important, what if people don’t know what they want?

What if they want something that is bad for them?

A Question That Demands An Answer

I don’t know if there is a more important question to lead someone. Of course, you could say there are more important things about someone, but if you want to know how to lead someone, this is something that you have to know.

Two great definitions of leadership that help us understand this is that leaders define reality and offer hope, and leaders take people from where they are to where they want to go. First, we see that understanding the wants of the person you are leading is critical because they may know what they want, but not what they need to do to get there. Second, we see that we must know where people are.

Salespeople have known this for years, and that is why sales based selling is the best way to sell. A customer often does not know what they want or need; so, people in sales will keep asking questions until they discover the deeper need behind what their customer wants.

This is also the key to successful job interviews — especially the first interview. Even before a candidate understands what your organization does, ask them what they want. If they want career growth, walk them through what career growth looks like in your organization. Maybe they want life balance — show them how you provide that. If they tell you the three most important things in their life, you can tell them if the type of work they would be expected to do will get in the way of those things.

Understanding what people want is crucial for navigating conflict. Conflict, particularly in the workplace, arises when people think someone is either denying them what they want or standing in the way of something they want. If you never understand what they are seeking, the conflict will continue to come up in a variety of scenarios because the root cause hasn't been understood or remedied. When you understand what people are seeking, conflict is easier to address because conflict resolution always gets down to the true wants and needs of a person.

The Want Behind The Want

Getting down to the want behind the want and the need behind the need is crucial. Thankfully, there are many helpful resources to better understand some of these basic wants and needs. If you google, ‘16 basic desires’ you will find some helpful research from psychologist Steven Reiss that outlines 16 basic things that people are seeking — including, power, romance, tranquility, acceptance, honor, etc.

Another helpful model is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Starting with people’s physiological needs and progressing all the way to their morality. People seek these things in all areas of their lives, but today, people are primarily seeking these things in their job.

We Want More… And More

These wants and needs are often insatiable and my eight year old son is a great example of this. I could give him anything he wants, and immediately he will ask for something else. So I asked him recently, “If I gave you everything you want, would you ask for more?” And, in response he said, “Yes, if you gave me everything I want, I would change my Christmas list and ask for more.”

My son is a desire producing machine and often we act the exact same way. We get something we want — and maybe even prayed for — and immediately we start asking for and seeking the next thing to make us happy.

God Gives Us What We Want — To Show Us What We Need

God has given people what they want from the very beginning. Adam and Eve had it all, yet they believed that God was holding out on them. The Isrealites wanted to be free. After God freed them, they wandered in the desert and wanted to go back. Then, the Isrealites wanted a king. God knew that having a king would cause problems, but He gave them one anyway.

In Romans 1:21-27, Paul describes this reality well:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

There is a clear pattern in these verses. God gives us what we want to show us — when we get to the end of ourselves — what we really need.

A great example of this from the words of Jesus is the parable of the prodigal son. In the parable of the prodigal son, the father in the story represents God and the son represents you and me, there is a process that God works through:

1. Father lets him take what he wants — so, God says take what you want

2. Father understand its not good for him  — God knows what we truly need, but gives us the freedom to pursue what we want

3. Son comes to the end of that want — we get to the end of ourselves

4. Father is waiting for his son  — God is not mad, he is ready to receive you

5. Father welcomes his son back  — God satisfies our every need

God lets us take what you want with full knowledge of what we truly need. He lets us get to the end of ourselves, and when we do, He embraces us with open arms and satisfies all our deepest needs.  

The Model Of Leading From Wants To Greatest Needs

Jesus is our model for leadership and this parable provides us with a way to lead people from what they want to what they truly need.

1. Understand what your coworker wants.

2. Ask how you can help.

3. Understand that giving them what they want will lead them to wanting more.

4. Understand some of their wants will be wrong, and you may have to let them go figure that out.

5. Always be ready to welcome them back to take them where they need to go.

Praise God we have a Savior that leads us this way.

Links
Lead With Questions
What Do You Want?

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Howard Graham
Howard Graham
Executive Director

Audio Transcript

To lead people, we need to know what they want. Jesus modeled this by leading with questions, and He not only started His public leadership with questions, He started his leadership by asking, “What do you want?” —  even before He said, “Come and follow me.”

Jesus understood that knowing what people want, and helping them realize what they want is of utmost importance for leading people well.

Why is the question, “What do you want”’ so important in order to lead others — is there a more important question?

If it is the most important, what if people don’t know what they want?

What if they want something that is bad for them?

A Question That Demands An Answer

I don’t know if there is a more important question to lead someone. Of course, you could say there are more important things about someone, but if you want to know how to lead someone, this is something that you have to know.

Two great definitions of leadership that help us understand this is that leaders define reality and offer hope, and leaders take people from where they are to where they want to go. First, we see that understanding the wants of the person you are leading is critical because they may know what they want, but not what they need to do to get there. Second, we see that we must know where people are.

Salespeople have known this for years, and that is why sales based selling is the best way to sell. A customer often does not know what they want or need; so, people in sales will keep asking questions until they discover the deeper need behind what their customer wants.

This is also the key to successful job interviews — especially the first interview. Even before a candidate understands what your organization does, ask them what they want. If they want career growth, walk them through what career growth looks like in your organization. Maybe they want life balance — show them how you provide that. If they tell you the three most important things in their life, you can tell them if the type of work they would be expected to do will get in the way of those things.

Understanding what people want is crucial for navigating conflict. Conflict, particularly in the workplace, arises when people think someone is either denying them what they want or standing in the way of something they want. If you never understand what they are seeking, the conflict will continue to come up in a variety of scenarios because the root cause hasn't been understood or remedied. When you understand what people are seeking, conflict is easier to address because conflict resolution always gets down to the true wants and needs of a person.

The Want Behind The Want

Getting down to the want behind the want and the need behind the need is crucial. Thankfully, there are many helpful resources to better understand some of these basic wants and needs. If you google, ‘16 basic desires’ you will find some helpful research from psychologist Steven Reiss that outlines 16 basic things that people are seeking — including, power, romance, tranquility, acceptance, honor, etc.

Another helpful model is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Starting with people’s physiological needs and progressing all the way to their morality. People seek these things in all areas of their lives, but today, people are primarily seeking these things in their job.

We Want More… And More

These wants and needs are often insatiable and my eight year old son is a great example of this. I could give him anything he wants, and immediately he will ask for something else. So I asked him recently, “If I gave you everything you want, would you ask for more?” And, in response he said, “Yes, if you gave me everything I want, I would change my Christmas list and ask for more.”

My son is a desire producing machine and often we act the exact same way. We get something we want — and maybe even prayed for — and immediately we start asking for and seeking the next thing to make us happy.

God Gives Us What We Want — To Show Us What We Need

God has given people what they want from the very beginning. Adam and Eve had it all, yet they believed that God was holding out on them. The Isrealites wanted to be free. After God freed them, they wandered in the desert and wanted to go back. Then, the Isrealites wanted a king. God knew that having a king would cause problems, but He gave them one anyway.

In Romans 1:21-27, Paul describes this reality well:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

There is a clear pattern in these verses. God gives us what we want to show us — when we get to the end of ourselves — what we really need.

A great example of this from the words of Jesus is the parable of the prodigal son. In the parable of the prodigal son, the father in the story represents God and the son represents you and me, there is a process that God works through:

1. Father lets him take what he wants — so, God says take what you want

2. Father understand its not good for him  — God knows what we truly need, but gives us the freedom to pursue what we want

3. Son comes to the end of that want — we get to the end of ourselves

4. Father is waiting for his son  — God is not mad, he is ready to receive you

5. Father welcomes his son back  — God satisfies our every need

God lets us take what you want with full knowledge of what we truly need. He lets us get to the end of ourselves, and when we do, He embraces us with open arms and satisfies all our deepest needs.  

The Model Of Leading From Wants To Greatest Needs

Jesus is our model for leadership and this parable provides us with a way to lead people from what they want to what they truly need.

1. Understand what your coworker wants.

2. Ask how you can help.

3. Understand that giving them what they want will lead them to wanting more.

4. Understand some of their wants will be wrong, and you may have to let them go figure that out.

5. Always be ready to welcome them back to take them where they need to go.

Praise God we have a Savior that leads us this way.

Links
Lead With Questions
What Do You Want?

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