A Leader Does. A leader Listens.

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Everyone has an opinion on leadership. So here is mine! Seriously though, there is a lot of great content out on leadership. I have been thinking about what makes a great leader. And a lot of the great content out there suggests that a leader “doesn’t do”. To clarify, this blog post is titled “A Leader Does.” But what I have heard (and maybe you have too) is a leader doesn’t. A leader can’t. A leader can’t do it all herself. He can’t do everything. She has to let go. And I actually agree!

Micheal Gerber, in his book the E Myth, talks about how there is a myth that everyone that has started a small business is an entrepreneur. This is not always the case. In many cases this is a myth. Just because someone is the best baker you know, doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to run a bakery. They may love to bake but when you run a small business there is a lot more to do than bake. An entrepreneur can’t do everything. A leader doesn’t do it all.

But yet there are things a leader does. So I recognize the tension here. A leader doesn’t but there are things a leader must do to lead others.

A leader doesn’t just say things

Picture it. A conference room where a leader is speaking for 45 minutes and everyone on his team is listening. Then the meeting just ends after his presentation.

Let’s give this leader the benefit of the doubt and assume valuable content is being shared. He is engaging and shares some insight into how to accomplish the mission of the organization. This leader is smart. He has a lot of wisdom. Now his team can go confidently accomplishing their tasks. But has he been collaborative? Has he listened to his team? Could his team possibly add to the valuable content that can lead the organization forward?

A leader listens

A leader no matter how wise should listen to others. If the leader doesn’t listen, the organization will only go as far as he can go. Even the most high capacity leaders have lids. How can they expand their capacity? I know of at least one way.

A great leader listens to others

Instead of a 45 minute presentation, which isn’t all bad (I love going to conferences to hear a great speak talk about leadership), make room in your meetings for people on your team to share their ideas and make observations on what they have seen. Give them a safe place to do this and don’t dismiss their ideas as inferior to yours. Here are just a few simple things to do the next time you lead a meeting.

  • Listen
  • Ask clarifying questions that don’t immediately shoot down their ideas.
  • Listen again
  • Be humble

Simple yes but not easy. It is hard for me to just listen without jumping ahead or dismissing the idea. Imagine if you had meetings where people could share ideas and this was an environment that fostered a collaborative spirit in your office! This could change the culture and morale of your office. And this would help accomplish the mission of your organization!

I will talk more about what a leaders does in the weeks ahead!

Thanks for reading!

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