One of our tools, Actionable Workshops, puts a manager in front of her team for an hour leading a discussion around a concept from a bestselling business book. As a team, they determine how the concept applies to their business. The team then creates an action plan for how they can immediately start making small incremental changes to achieve their goal.
Inadvertently, I glossed over the fact that not all team managers are experienced or well-versed in leading a session with their team, didn’t I. For a lot of our newer clients, the mere thought of “teaching” for an hour can be daunting. One would assume that, as managers, they’re presenting from a position of authority and expertise, right? Not necessarily so, as it turns out.
Some of our best clients figured out, years ago, that the recipe for success was in being extremely up-front that this was content created elsewhere. They were just as new to the material as their team was. By shifting their focus, style and yes, even language, from a “you versus me” to an “us” approach, it relaxed the whole room. No longer did the leader need to have all the answers. Instead, merely acting as a guide and walking the team through the conversation worked well.
Suddenly the need for perfection, for authority and expertise is removed. The room becomes a “learning lab”; a safe place in which to explore new ideas together. The results have been staggering.
At the end of the day, successful leadership comes down to humility and authenticity. Of course, you have to be good at what you do. And hopefully, you weren’t promoted, in the first place, if it wasn’t already the case.
Use your leadership role as an opportunity to expose your team to new thinking, to new ideas. Use language that is authentic, i.e. in your natural style, that is approachable, that pushes the group to learn more. Providing only answers builds dependence for more answers. Asking “why?” and “what if we…” encourages exploration and innovation. Our most successful customers know this. And hopefully you now do too.
Chris Taylor is Founder & President of ActionableBooks.com, where he and his team help busy professionals engage with ideas from leading business books and thought leaders. Learn more and check out over 200 Actionable Summaries and 30 Actionable Interviews at www.actionablebooks.com.