“Being right means nothing unless you’re the one that holds the cards.” That is what a great boss once told me. He learned that after being fired from a prestigious law firm after arguing with his boss over who was right. His boss said to him “You know what, your right – and you’re fired!” I later discovered that we never really hold all the cards. Even when we own our own companies, we are still at the mercy of our loyal customers, our brand and those we hope to gain valuable relationships with in the future.
Good leadership is not about being right; it’s about doing the right things.
A good leader understands the value in making mistakes. Being wrong is a humbling experience that teaches us what not to do the next time. Leadership doesn’t require you to know everything; rather it requires you to know how to find the answers to questions you don’t know while working with those that do. Leading only to “yessers” is a foolish mistake.
You simply cannot grow if you are never challenged beyond that which you think you already know.
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Leadership requires many things, but being right isn’t one of them. As a leader you must have the ability to:
One of the most prominent traits in a good leader is having the ability to bring out the good in people and help them turn that good into great. Good leaders enhance the lives of others by showing them how to become greater, reach higher and go beyond the norm; truly invaluable treasures. People need to know they make a difference and they are valued. This is what leadership is all about.
Good leaders understand that effective communication is the difference between speaking to someone and having a conversation with someone. Communication doesn’t become effective if the recipient does not understand the expectations nor have they agreed to meet them. Bring workers into the conversation, don’t just speak at them – engage them.
You can’t do everything yourself. If you think you can, you’re only fooling yourself and wasting a lot of time and money in the midst. Delegation is one of the toughest things to do for someone who thinks “nothing will get done right if I don’t do it myself”. You must trust that people will do what they say they have the ability to do. When you give employees’ tasks or projects to complete, leave them to it! No hovering and nit-picking for goodness sake. If you want to find out how they are coming along, create an agreeable timeline requiring updates. Give constructive criticism, encouragement and make adjustments as needed, but please get out of the way and let them do what you pay them to do.
Be Open to Change
Your way may not always be the right way and that should be perfectly acceptable considering none of us are perfect. Sure, we all have our skills and may even be considered experts within our industries, but I’m a true believer that learning is a life-long journey. If you ever get to a point where you think there’s nothing else to learn, then it’s certainly time to move on. Smart leaders always keep people in their closest circle who challenge them beyond their own thoughts. Those very people are what keep a company alive. Allow your employees to introduce fresh ideas to meet market demands. Encourage them to discover innovative ways to solve problems. You can’t be the only idea in the bunch. Let your employees do what you hired them to do, add value. Otherwise your investment will walk right out the door to a competitor ready and willing to listen.
Confidence is key in leadership. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. We weren’t born knowing everything, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise (unless you say you know more than you actually do……and that’s a whole other topic!). The point is, leadership is not just about your solution, it’s about working with others to find the right solution.