Leadership presents many conundrums.
One of them involves the style in which you choose to communicate your opinion and perspective to others.
On the one hand, if you’re in any type of management or leadership role, you might feel it’s part of your job to be the one with all the answers. You may fear that if you fail to at least project the image of knowing it all, your team won’t respect you, and you’ll lose the authority of your position. Many leaders I work with as an executive coach fall into the trap of thinking that because they are at the top of their division and
must be the ones who make the ultimate decisions for their group, they must
always be right.
But while it’s true that part of effective leadership involves being informed enough to provide answers and guide others, there’s a bigger picture to keep in mind. What could be bigger than knowing it all? Acknowledging the fact that no one is always right. In fact, some of the most effective leaders reach their achievements not by being the “answer person,” but by surrounding themselves with a top-notch team and listening to them.
Tune In and Observe.
We’ve all known someone who projects that their opinion is the only one that matters. How do you feel when you’re around a person like this? When I’ve asked coaching clients this question, they’re the first to admit that such people suck the life out of any project or joint endeavor and are incredibly demoralizing to work with, particularly in a team environment.
But what if you’re that person? Do people often share new ideas or perspectives with you? If they don’t, they may be afraid of approaching and confiding in you because they expect that you won’t listen to them. If this seems to be what’s happening on your team, it may be time to shut up and listen. Talk less, observe more, and tune in to what your co-workers are trying to tell you.
The fact is, if you’re a great leader, then you’ve taken the time to hire well, and you have some unbelievably smart people working for you. Listen hard to what they say, welcome informed challenges to your own ideas, and understand others perspectives only then should you make your final call. After taking the time to truly tune in to your team, you may make a different, more informed decision than your original one and your whole company will benefit.
Admit When You’re Wrong.
What’s the opposite of a know-it-all? Someone who has the ability to admit not having all the answers, and who can acknowledge sometimes making mistakes like everyone else.
Nothing makes a leader more magnetic than the willingness to take responsibility for a bad call. If you find yourself in the position of having misadvised your team, then simply admit it, request forgiveness, and move on. Your fallibility will make others respect you more and take greater risks in their own jobs.