How do you get your team to agree on an objective? You can unilaterally declare the goals for your organization. But that’s not leadership. That’s just exerting power. Power can make people do things FOR you, but when the going gets tough or something better comes along, they won’t be WITH you.
Besides, do you really know the future in enough detail that you can just issue instructions? You probably have some good ideas, but you know about as much about the future as a weatherman does about next week’s sunshine.
Leadership is not a solo performance. You are trying to inspire and motivate others to work hard. You need your team to function well and start achieving results now, not in the distant future. In short, you need to build a working environment that leverages your team’s expertise, insights, and abilities. To foster that environment, you must listen more than you speak, and you must avoid making assertions until absolutely necessary. You must make room for collaboration and as long as you are making assertions, there is no room.
If you say that collaboration is nice but not effective under pressure, you are a fool. When your organization is striving to achieve goals under pressure from competitors and constrained resources, you cannot be everywhere at once. You cannot adjudicate each critical decision. You must rely on the skills, judgment, and meticulous care of those on your team. By definition, you need their collaboration.
Want to unify a team? Listening is paramount. Time and again, I have seen leaders speak their opinions too soon and then lose the creativity, enthusiasm, and passion inherent in their team. Want to lead well? Want a team that solves problems and pushes for success – without you riding herd day and night? Then stop venting your opinions and frustrations. Start asking questions!
- how can we do that faster?
- where are we weak?
- where are we strong?
- who is the best on the team to drive that project?
- how can we do that less expensively?
- how does that help us succeed?
- why not?
Is this harder than telling people what to do and demanding outcomes? Of course! Will you succeed without listening, asking questions, and creating a collaborative environment? Yes, but only for a little while. Your competitors who are inspired and motivated will outrun you, outlast you, and in the end force you to either inspire your team or polish up your resume.
The choice is yours. Choose now while you still have time.