How to Elevate Your Leadership in Surprising Ways
I saw a breathtaking thing of beauty in an executive coaching session.
I asked a client, I’ll call him Carl, to take a courageous step and he did. His courage and humility were remarkable.
The conversation went something like this.
“Who on your staff is really good in the area you’re developing?” Carl mentioned a manager. I’ll call him Harry.
I asked, “Do you trust Harry?” He replied that he did.
Would it be OK if we invite Harry to our meeting. Perhaps he will have a suggestion. A few moments later, Harry tapped on the door.
I explained that Carl was working on a specific skill where Harry excelled. I said, “I realize you aren’t prepared for this. Let’s just see what happens.”
Harry confessed that he felt a bit on the spot, but he was game. That’s when my client asked the question we had prepared.
“I’m working on something that you’re really good at. I wonder if you have a suggestion of how I could connect with staff today. I’m looking for a small suggestion. I’ll do whatever you suggest.”
Harry was taken back, but it only took a few seconds for something to come to mind. He made a specific suggestion. My client said he would do it.
I asked Harry how he might be supportive of his boss.
- Someone on your staff excels at things where you’re weak. It’s easy for them to suggest behaviors that elevate your leadership.
- Seek input from people you trust and respect.
- The suggestions of others are easy to ignore.
- Give alternative perspectives a chance. It’s useful to make a commitment to do whatever small thing is suggested.
- It takes courage and humility to follow the advice of someone who sees things different from you.
What hinders leaders who aspire to get to the next level?
How might leaders take their leadership to the next level?
The names are fictitious. Details are intentionally obscure.
My client is highly skilled, confident, and successful.
I’m not suggesting you adopt this approach. I wasn’t sure if my client would approve. When I brought this up, I was sure to make it easy to reject the idea.
The person we invited into our meeting was aware of our coaching engagement. We had previous conversations. He respects his boss and is committed to his success.
Love the spontaneity. Love the courage and sense of adventure that were demonstrated by both Carl and Harry. Both of them took a leap of faith. You presented them with a challenge that had risk. They accepted and all of you are better for it.
Thanks rpope. Both individuals were remarkable. People rise up. I was fortunate to be a witness to it. It takes real humility to say to someone that you will do whatever they suggest. Never mind the trust. Frankly, I’m still impressed with both of them.
I was fortunate enough to hire someone who is very strong in an area of ‘opportunity’ for me. Best thing I can do is ask her, and get the benefit of that strength. I see no reason to NOT. That ultimately is foolish.
I also have asked her to assess my progress and provide regular support for me. When all are focused on the goal and understand the positive impact that can result, there is a real tangible win/win scenario.
Accountability is growth, from both sides!
Thanks Will. It takes humble aspiration to do what you’re doing. I think we’re more comfortable with arrogant aspiration. When that happens we have to pretend like we have it all together.
Liked the post and the fact that the suggestion from a trusted person is more reliable and workable. The person who supports gets committed by keeping a larger faith in his leader and is always ready to do his part willingly. He thinks innovatively once feels that he is valued for his role and his suggestions are listened to.
Gradually, a good leader builds the team of doers and looks for better ways of implementation. Some of them even are added in a think-tank for working on future goals.
Thanks Dr. Asher. Your insights help us see the broad value of trusting people on the team. One thing is certain. When a leader says, “I’ll do whatever you say,” it sends a powerful message that this is an important moment.
True! It reflects the confidence and reliability on the trusted team members.