Leadership Is About ‘Getting It Right’ Not Being Right
By Tony Gambill
Date Published: Mar 31, 2021
To truly become a leader, one must have the belief and mindset that “it is more important to get it right than it is to be right”. Let me explain.
“Being right is all about having the answers.”
“Getting it right is all about creating an environment of trust and empowering others to reach the right answers.”
A leader’s success is directly tied to their ability to build strong relationships, influence others, coach, delegate, engage employees and develop talent. None of these critical components for leadership success is reliant on the ability to have all the right answers.
Making The Shift
Making the shift from needing to “be right” to “getting it right” can be difficult because almost all leaders rise to leadership positions because of their ability to problem-solve and get things done. Because this ability has served them well in the past, the natural inclination for leaders when they are feeling a loss of control, frustration or threat is to take the lead in resolving the issue at hand.
We have all seen a passionate leader who convinces themselves that the end justifies the means. Leaders will often rationalize why they need to be the “chief problem solver” for their teams with the following statements.
I already know the right answer
It is easier for me to just give them the solution
They won’t do it as well I can
Often others don’t follow through as I expect
While it is true that employees must rely on their leader to resolve the occasional urgent complex challenge, over-reliance on the leader to have the right answers creates many issues. What does this type of leadership behavior say to the employees about how they should act when encountering future challenges and problems? How does this mentality impact the company’s scalability?
3 Tools for Getting It Right
1) Lead With Questions
Taking the time to ask questions demonstrates that the leader understands they don’t have all the information and need input from others to establish a more accurate perspective. Also, research confirms that the single most effective way to increase trust is to demonstrate a desire to understand others’ perspectives and needs. Below are two types of questions effective leaders regularly ask their employees when resolving challenges.
Questions targeted at understanding other’s perspectives
“What is working” / “What is not working?”
“What would success look like? / “How important is this to you?”
Questions that generate forward-focused solutions
“What do you think we should do next?” / “What solutions do you see?”
2) Yes, And…
"Yes, AND" is a powerful leadership tool for increasing collaboration and effective communication. Think about it. Have you ever shared your perspective with a leader and they immediately respond by saying, “Yes, BUT”, then launching into sharing their “right” answer? A “Yes, BUT” response makes you feel that the leader has shifted from listening and is now focused on dismissing your perspective and emphasizing their “right answer”.
This simple “Yes, AND” approach encourages safety, increases possibility, and promotes inclusive problem-solving. If needed, there will always be time for narrowing potential solutions. Practicing using “Yes, AND” helps leaders expand conversations by valuing perspectives and increasing the buy-in of others.
3) Seek Feedback
Regardless of how effective you are as a leader, you will have flawed perspectives or sometimes just make mistakes. Asking for your team members' feedback demonstrates that everyone has room to improve by role modeling a growth mindset for continuous development.
Since sharing feedback with a leader is risky for employees, a leader must be deliberate about creating a safe environment by actively giving permission and expressing openness and desire to receive feedback about their performance. For a leader to regularly receive honest upward feedback, they need to minimize potential obstacles while encouraging others by:
Asking for feedback often
Being specific about the feedback request
Great leaders understand that their primary role IS NOT to resolve their team's ongoing challenges and issues. A leader’s primary responsibility is to create a culture where employees feel valued, empowered, capable, and motivated to solve their problems and do great work.
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