Best ideas are never found in presentations
Formal education is based on lectures, books, PowerPoint presentations, blackboard tools – in short, some form of presentation. Education conditions us to assume valuable information comes from presentations. That is why great importance is placed on presentations and presentation skills. In the real world, the longer and more detailed the presentation is, the less valuable is the information. Great ideas can be captured in one or two sentences, and often your employees have those ideas, not your peers or boss. All you have to do is listen. And your employees will love you for listening. The ‘volunteer penalty’ kills the flow of great ideas.
As great ideas usually tend to come from your best employees, it’s natural to assign them the responsibility of carrying out an idea. But since your best employees are already working at peak capacity, assigning them responsibility for every idea they generate will quickly stop their flow of ideas. Usually, most of them end up thinking – ‘I better not suggest this, or I’ll have to do it’. But there will be times when the employee welcomes such responsibility and may even feel hurt if you don’t give them that responsibility.
So how will know what is going on in the mind of an employee? Ask. Sharing only positives is always a negative. If you are communicating the reasoning behind a decision, sharing the positive aspects with your team is easy. Yet, employees instinctively look for the negatives, since every silver lining always includes a black cloud. To build trust, share the negatives too. Talk about the downside. Show you understand the best and the worst that can happen. When you freely discuss potential negatives, employees not only respect you, they often work hard to make sure those negatives don’t occur. This exercise also helps you hone your leadership skills.
Data is accurate, but your boss is right
You are smart. You are talented and you are educated. Data analysis is your best option. Sometimes, your data will lead to inescapable conclusions and your boss may not agree. Evenif you run your own business, you still have a boss – the customer.
So, why won’t your boss agree?
Sometimes, decisions are based on more than analysis, logic, and reasoning as these decisions must eventually be carried out by people – people with a wide range of skills, motivations, emotions and agendas. Leadership style should be data driven, but great leadership is also messy and at times counter- intuitive. If your boss doesn’t agree, then it’s alright to ask why. But that is to learn and not to defend your position. You know things your boss doesn’t always know. He or she knows things you don’t know, at least not yet. You only learn from another person’s experience when you listen.
You might lack a great leadership or may lack effective leadership skills. That’s ok. I’m reminded of the parable of the talents which is roughly translated as ‘to those who much has been given, much is required’. Your quality have to serve others. Set aside sometime every day for creative thinking, because only your ideas and innovations can change your life as a leader as well as your organization.
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