Adding New Tools to the Toolbox

Are you learning new leadership tools and practicing using the tools you already have? Are you intentional to share the tools you have with others?

Let me share with you how the “toolbox” analogy can help us grow as leaders.


I am reminded of the first time I encountered a patient with a foreign object in his ear. It was a live bug. Believe it or not, sometimes (during our sleep usually) bugs can crawl in. If a bug cannot turned around, it gets stuck because it cannot crawl backward. So a person will feel a constant moving and scratching on the ear drum?quite annoying!

I tried to grab the bug with forceps (medical tweezers), but I could not get to it, and it caused the patient some discomfort. So my attending physician recommended a different tool called the Alligator. The Alligator is an instrument shaped like the letter “L”. When you open it like scissors, it?s small tip opens up, and you can grab things with it. Bingo! I got the bug out, and the patient was happy.

When you study leadership, if you think of acquiring tools, it makes learning purposeful and specific. It?s exciting to add more tools to your toolbox. All of a sudden, you are more effective. The positive change is often quick.

Here is one example of a set of tools in my toolbox. When I meet with people, I use the following:?1. Listen;?2. Build;?3. Align. I grab this set of tools out of my toolbox any time I am in a one-on-one meeting, and I use them to the best of my ability to help me lead the other person. I have taught this principle to those around me who have been open minded and ready to listen and learn a new tool. Learn more in this series of articles: Listen. Build. Align. (Read them, and add more tools to your toolbox!)

Remember this about tools:

Without the right tool:
1. There is unnecessary suffering.
2. There is potential injury from using the wrong tool.
3. There is frustration for everyone involved.

With the right tool:
1. It is easier on everyone.
2. There is less injury.
3. There is less frustration for everyone involved.

How to go about getting new tools:
1. You have to know a tool exists. Usually that requires watching someone use a tool, then you have an ?a-ha? moment. Or someone must watch you, and tell you about it.
2. You have to know how to use the tool. This requires demonstration.
3. You have to know when to use the tool.
4. You have to practice using the tool. This builds experience.
5. You have to review how to use the tool. There are some procedures I learned in my medical residency fifteen years ago that I have not needed in my practice. It is amazing how you forget and lose skills. Still, it is easier to relearn them.

So what are the leadership tools you have?

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

For Further Reading:

Essential Practices for Growth
Three Fundamental Growth Disciplines

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