How do those you lead respond to you? Do they comply with whatever you are asking of them? Do you have to keep sending reminders, poking and prodding for action? Is there ever any pushback? Do any members of your team ever “tweak” your ideas? How do you receive those suggestions for improvement?
There are all sorts of leadership style surveys and questionnaires out there that are much more comprehensive than the questions I’ve posed. I’ve taken many of them and found that, when answered honestly, they helped me identify my strengths and my growing edges. But if you are of a mind right this minute to examine your leadership style, answer this: Honestly, are you seeking compliance or growth from those you lead?
Consider this from Seth Godin’s little book, Graceful:
“Because we are not seeking compliance, our goal is growth. And growth requires leadership, not authority.”
Authority breeds compliance. Compliance squelches creativity and innovation, which inhibits growth. As Godin points out, “…growth comes from change, insight and exploration, not obedience.” Effective leaders not only encourage input, they invite constructive feedback. When your team members are free to question your plan, to share suggestions for improvement, or to offer up their own plan which may be quite different from yours, growth happens. For them and for you.
So, here’s a simple suggestion to help you be a better leader: Stop talking and listen–with an open mind. Let go of the old notion that effective leaders are authoritative, that you have to offer up the idea and that it has to be realized according to your plan. Resist the urge to offer up your proposal–let someone else speak first. Invite feedback and discussion. Sit back and listen. Experience growth.