Lead or Get Out of the Way!

 In Leaders, Uncategorized

“Lead or Get Out of the Way” is the first of our twelve leadership development webinars.  We have participants read the article “Becoming the Boss” by Linda Hill.  The article provides a perspective on the differences in being a successful individual contributor and then getting to that ‘manager’ role.  It is important that new managers understand what is NOT true about their new role.

Here are three premise statements that define the gist of being a leader.

Leaders who really lead:

  1. Teach and Trust
  2. Seek Diversity of Thought
  3. Ask a Question, Any Question

Teach and trust:  We added a twist to the ‘teach ’em to fish’ proverb in this premise statement.  We all know that if we take the time to TEACH someone to do something we are eventually freed-up to do more and better things; we have also developed the skills of another.  Everyone wins.  It was important to us that we add the ‘TRUST” after you have taught.  We don’t mean that you don’t monitor or ask about progress, we simply advise that you teach someone how to do something and then give them space enough to perform.  Every manager needs to find the balance of monitor versus micro-manage.  We can all learn using the watch, do, teach approach.

Seek Diversity of Thought:  This is another no-brainer that we took to a different level.  Of course you respect the differences in your work group.  We spend considerable time talking about the advantages and disadvantages of hiring all ‘mini-me’ employees.  Most managers are naturally inclined to hire people just like them — you understand where they are coming from, you understand what buttons to push, and you appreciate in them what you like in yourself.  However, consider the lost diversity of thought.  Consider the good ideas that will never occur to someone with a perspective that is similar to yours.  Consider the tasks that will never get done because all of you dislike the same tasks.  It takes all kinds.  The best managers know that and put up with the pain of having to get to know someone who is different!

Ask a Question, Any Question:  Obviously, the whole idea behind this premise statement is asking questions rather than being ‘the answer giver’.  It is a common misconception that being the manager means having all of the answers and playing the parent role with your direct reports.  (Think “Mother knows best”.)  On the contrary, the best managers spend much more time asking questions — they ask questions to understand the perspective of others, determine where another person is coming from, and getting the best ideas there are from the collective group.  It is a simple premise statement to understand, but as we all know, very few (and I mean very few) managers are natural listeners!

These are three simple things every leader can do to engage and motivate employees to perform and grow.

Which one is your biggest personal challenge and what is one thing you can do differently this week to improve?


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