A common phrase used by my military supervisors was “Don’t be stupid.” Besides the mission, my overriding goal while in uniform was not being “That Guy.”
Here’s how I avoid it in my corporate life – be a leader.
Humility is a big part of leadership. I’ve observed time and again how The Boss is convinced that he is the Smartest Guy in the Room, and dictates not only the objective, but the strategy and the tactics. This worked when they were a functional expert (maybe), or technical leader – but it doesn’t work when in charge of a larger, cross functional team.
Some might call that micromanagement. I just call it being stupid. Which is why micromanagers are often referred to as The Boss.
Learning from others is a key part of being a leader. Three key tasks can set you apart as A Leader, vs. being The Boss:
- Invite interaction. Lay out the issue at hand, and ask for input. Sincerely ask for input, with an open mind – not filibuster for 7 minutes and then look at the team, asking, “What do you think?” The filibuster breeds cynicism. True interaction brings out team engagement.
- Listen. Really, really listen. I know that is difficult for driver types, but ensure that you look at the person speaking (not at your phone), and ask clarifying questions.
- Check for engagement. Once the team has determined the course of action, summarize the next steps. Then, go around the group and ask if anyone has anything to add. Make sure they verbalize or acknowledge. In a functioning team, this simple step can be the glue that binds the team to the decision, or uncovers the hidden dissent that starts the process over again.
For The Boss, there is only one way – their way. With a Leader, the team engagement identifies several options – and the group selects the right one.
Is the person you work for a Boss, or a Leader? Which will you be? It’s a choice – and it’s up to you.