There is a conundrum in leadership in today’s click-through marketplace. Many are drawn to leadership to accomplish big things, which is great, but they often lack the patience to develop their leadership team slowly and carefully. Preferring to pick people they get along with best and are the easiest to work with, they tend to dismiss those that don’t have these two particular qualities because they require more work.
What’s wrong with that you say? Well, start with the fact that a well rounded leadership team is just that. Well rounded. This requires many types of people with many different types of skills and personalities. Only choosing people that are the easiest to get along with is a terrible prescription to building a balanced leadership team.
Chief executives need to drive transformation differently today. Incremental changes do not lead to transformation. They need the full buy-in of their leadership team and they won’t get it if they are told what they are going to do. The leadership practice today is to let the team know what the desired result is and allow them to develop “How” they are going to achieve it. Since it is their planning that drives the desired result there will be far more buy-in and accountability to purpose.
This is often difficult for chief executives who prefer to micro-manage their teams. But anyone can change who wants to. One thing is for certain, micro-management leads to defection and high attrition and often stalls an organization dead in its tracks.
- The two best things a chief executive can do:
- Asking questions
- The two worst things a chief executive can do:
- Telling people what, why, and how they are going to do everything
- Intimidating people into doing what he or she wants
Here are three steps that you can take to build better leaders on your team:
- Stop being impatient. Don’t see yourself as the one who has to keep everything going and moving at the correct pace. See yourself as a coach, mentor and nurturer of people and their individual talent that you might miss if you don’t take the time to look. Providing confidence to your team members to continue to grow and develop their talent demands that you know what they are and how to develop them. Even with people who lack natural confidence, when a leader takes an interest to help them solve their challenges they can overcome them. This makes the team stronger.
- Listen, really listen. Stop what you’re thinking and listen carefully to what the team member is saying. Does this take longer? Yes. But this makes even the most nervous person more comfortable telling you what’s really going on, why it is and what can be done about it. Under pressure this same person will not offer the solutions they see simply because they’re not being reassured by their leader.
- Stop being a producer, and start being a scout. If you see yourself as an impatient judge of talent, you will only be satisfied with the very best talent. But seeing yourself as a scout allows you the time to develop that talent into its full potential. Those you might overlook or those you prefer to have on your team should not necessarily boil down to who is farthest in their development. Why not take a chance or two on some less experienced, or even difficult people, and help them turn into the best they can be?
No chief executive has a 100% perfect success rate. So why not give the younger guys time to develop and lead? In the long run, this approach will allow you to do what you do best. Look ahead to what’s next and the best steps to get there.