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Listen, Learn, Lead

Aug 20th 2010 at 10:04 AM

Listen, Learn, Lead

 

“Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity”

George S. Patton

 

When should you lead?  When should you follow?  This is a question that every good Leader has to struggle with.  The answer to the first question “When should you lead?” is every day.  You must remember that there are times when you will take the lead and be in charge, but there will also be times when, in order to be most effective, you will remain in the background.  By doing so, you will help to instill accountability, responsibility and a sense of Ownership.

 

No matter how experienced, or educated, or intelligent you are…no matter how high you have risen up the corporate ladder, you cannot know everything.  You cannot know more than all of your colleagues or subordinates, nor can you know how to do everything better than they do.  You can, of course, know how to do many things better than they can, but if you are always doing their work, then you are failing to do your job.

 

Your job, as a Leader, is to help others learn and grow.  Your job is to delegate tasks, question their plan to achieve the goals, and then listen closely to their reasoning and plan.  Your colleagues or subordinates may be closer to the situation and have better knowledge and, as such, may have good action plans. Your job is to lead by example and sometimes that means, in the background.  

 

So, the answer to the second question, “When should you follow?”-  is whenever someone has closer knowledge of the situation, greater ability or greater experience, after you have listened and learned their goals and their action plan and bought into their plan.

 

It may be difficult to remain silent in the background and let others do the work, but it is an important part of business growth.  As long as their methods are not illegal, unethical or against company policies, then a Leader will focus more on the final result, than the path taken to achieve success.  It is easy to focus like a laser beam on the minute day-to-day details, but broadening your view and looking at the big picture will result in increased responsibility, accountability and experience of those in your organization and, ultimately, increased profitability.

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