If there was ever a time when leaders could simply issue commands and consider them done, now is most certainly not that time. We live in a world of flattened organizational structures, cross-functional teams, and workplace cultures that value collaboration, autonomy, and sensitivity. In my work coaching executives at companies and nonprofits over the past 20 years, I’ve observed that leaders increasingly find themselves having to make requests in order to get stuff done. And more often than not, they don’t know how to do it.
Mastering the Art of the Request
Even the most effective leaders recognize how much is outside of their control, but one thing we all have agency over is how we communicate with others. Clearly articulated requests, the kinds that elicit real responses, don’t come naturally to most of us. As it turns out, there’s an art to the request — whether it’s directed at an employee who’s producing subpar deliverables or a colleague from a different department who hasn’t been pulling their weight on a collaborative project. Here’s why requests are so hard to make, what so many leaders are still getting wrong, and a handful of strategies for issuing requests that elicit concrete, actionable responses.