First Question, First Person, Trust First

Micah Skinner

November 2018

This morning, we had the privilege of hosting Eric Herrenkohl, President of Herrenkohl Consulting. As his expertise is recruiting executive leaders, the conversation naturally revolved around the theme of leadership. How can you be an effective leader in your sphere? What influence do we (especially those of us who are not executives) have? Who have been the most influential leaders in your lives, and what did they have in common? Mr. Herrenkohl offered three main pieces of advice. We first discussed how we are to be the one asking the first question - be willing to admit you don’t know something! Once that first barrier is breached, others are much more willing to ask questions as well. Then, we discussed how we ought to be the first person to reach out to the “others” in our spheres, whether that’s new hires or new students. Humanity is bent towards tribalism, and one of the Philadelphia Commons Institute’s missions is to cultivate these cross-tribal conversations and relationships, and someone always has to reach out first. Lastly, we discussed how we ought to trust first, to build trust by showing respect. We believe that the common good is truly a common good, one that requires the participation of all voices in our community. How can this occur if someone isn’t willing to trust and respect the viewpoints of others? At PCI, we learn through conversation.

Discussion Questions
What are some situations in your life where you can lead by being the first to question? Do you take advantage of these opportunities?

Can you think of an instance when someone made the effort to be the first person to reach out to you?  How did this experience impact you?

Are there ways in which you show a lack of trust to those around you?