As leaders we often tell our staff and colleagues to “be open” “tell me how you are really feeling”, but what if they actually did? What if you didn’t like or agree with what they had to say about you? Would you be able to handle it? It’s easy to look at others and form opinions about their work style, how they communicate with others and the quality of their work product, but what about us? Are we so grandiose that our colleagues and subordinates should adulate our mere presence?
We all have our way of doing things and maybe many of those ways are the “right” way, but sometimes we do crazy things as humans – we make mistakes. We may overlook and underestimate the uniqueness of people and their contributions to the workplace. When you are good at what you do, it’s easy to get comfortable. There may be instances where you shut people out of decision-making or refuse to listen to fresh ideas and new perspectives. In business, change is crucial to organizational sustainability and without it, a company will not survive.
Leadership is an ongoing learning process. Successful leaders understand the best way to lead is to have people in your circle and on your leadership team who are not afraid to have open candid conversations with you. I call these people “the realist”. They bring you back down to earth when you get ahead of yourself and balance you when you need it. Good leaders are humble. They believe in the overall good and are not focused on how good they look. If you don’t have people on your team willing to disagree with you without being afraid, then you need to make some adjustments. Leading to a bunch of yessers is a foolish mistake.
Jack Welch on Leaders at the top: “You’ve got to look in the mirror every morning and be totally self-effacing,” he says. “Give yourself a critical review.” – New York’s World Business Forum – 2012
Ask yourself these questions to get back on the right track.
1. Do you always have an answer/response when someone criticizes your decisions? The “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude?
2. Are you willing to take suggestions or recommendations from subordinates? Are you an ego-maniac?
3. When clients are not pleased with a service or work product, do you think they are being unreasonable or picky?
4. Do you find yourself debating and defending your position when in meetings, often attempting to convince others to agree with your viewpoint?
Good leaders understand and accept their imperfections. They embrace the fact that every decision made will not be the right one, but most importantly they appreciate the learning experience. There is almost always something we can improve on in our behavior and communication. If you don’t believe you need to improve on any area, you are sadly mistaken and I implore you to take action now.