13 Aug MANAGEMENT SPEAKER: LEADERSHIP IS A TEAM SPORT
Trade secret: Leadership is a team sport – great bosses don’t manage, they empower. As complex, far-reaching, and involved as most professional efforts have become, no one individual can hope to be an expert in all aspects of them, or shoulder the entire burden of executing these projects alone: Rather, they have to align disparate groups of people towards a common cause; leverage a wide array of individuals’ skills, perspectives and sources; and provide ever-larger teams with the tools they need to move forward and make smart decisions, even amid environments of growing uncertainty, in which people often have imperfect information with which to make these decisions.
At the same time, while studies show the #1 most reliable source of successful innovative new ideas is customers/end-users (whom frontline workers are often closest to),
they also tell us the #1 biggest fear in the workplace is of making mistakes – pointing to the vital need to empower workers to speak up more often, encourage them to take smart chances (e.g. by experimenting with small, smart, cost-effective strategies), be accountable for their mistakes, and not hide failures, but rather use them as learning opportunities for the entire organization.
In effect, great leaders encourage entrepreneurial thinking and a sense of ownership in teams – and, like great coaches, know when it’s time to step back and let their team take the lead. Likewise, they also encourage a culture of trust, bravery, and willingness to exercise strong, but weakly-held opinions… i.e. one where workers do their homework, and aren’t afraid to move forward and make firm decisions using the best info possible – but also aren’t so married to these choices that they can’t change course as new, and many times conflicting, information is gained.
As you can see, being a great leader doesn’t mean that you have to be exceptionally talented or possess higher IQ: Rather, just a more open mind and greater willingness to bring teamwork and fresh perspectives to bear.