Great Leaders Ask
An executive I work with was telling me recently how his boss, the CEO, made a significant announcement to the whole executive team. The announcement came as a surprise to him and others on the team. He told me how he wished the CEO had consulted with him in the process of putting together his plan that he had announced. He saw a couple significant holes in the CEO’s plan that he probably would have been able to help his boss avoid.
But, as far as he could tell, the CEO had not asked for input prior to announcing his plan. And even after the announcement, the CEO did not express interest in input from his team.
This executive was now faced with the question of whether to point out the holes in his boss’s plan or just ignore them and hope for the best. Was the CEO going to be receptive to constructive critique of his plan now that he had announced it to everyone? The right thing for this executive to do was let his boss know his concerns. But the CEO had created an awkward situation that was unnecessary.
Maybe the CEO was thinking, “This is not a democracy. I make the calls here.” Maybe it was just an oversight this one time. Maybe he was under some other pressure. There are a lot of possible reasons that would seem valid.
But there are at least three good reasons for a leader to slow down and seek input from her team. First, no leader has the full picture. They might like to think they do, but they just don’t.
While it’s right and commendable for a leader to take responsibility for the organization’s direction, how many missteps could be avoided by taking time to ask for the input of a leader’s trusted team members?
Secondly, getting input from team members is a great, simple and FREE way to build the morale of a leader’s team. One of the greatest rewards of high-level work is the self-esteem boost that comes from being consulted on important issues, especially in our areas of expertise.
Thirdly, great leaders do more than just get things done right. They intentionally develop more leaders around them. Including junior leaders in our decision-making process is a great way to help them grow with us as leaders. It’s also a great way to assess their current leadership capacity, helping you know how best to coach them in the future.
So, take the time to slow down and seek input from those around you. It’s good for you as the leader, and it’s good for those you lead.
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Jay Pullins has been leading and developing leaders in a variety of settings for over 30 years. He has a diverse background as a leadership coach, military officer, an appointed state official, and executive leader of Alaska's largest church. Jay has trained over 1,400 leaders in the last five years, from Alaska to Southern California, in various fields from universities to military, construction, product distribution, manufacturing, telecommunications, churches, banks, casinos, and a railroad.