Leadership Boo Boos - Part 1: Always Right, Never Wrong



I say it's Part 1 in the title above, but I really don't know how many parts there will be to this "Boo Boo" series. Certainly more than one, although we'd like to think not too many more. I mean, gosh, how many boo-boos do we make as leaders? Well, truthfully, we've all made a few during our development as leaders and no doubt have observed many more. As leaders, we often like to ponder and share ideas on how to improve employee performance, but it's just as important to look in the mirror and start there. We don't always like that a whole lot. But, the real leaders, the ones in my opinion that get it right, do exactly that.

Boo Boo #1: Always right, never wrong.

Know these folks? I've known a few of them and I'll admit to feeling some 'rightness' a time or two myself. Time, experience, and the smack of humility knocked me off of that stance many years ago, thank goodness, and I remind myself often not to get back in that chair. For one, people don't like it. For two, people don't like it. For three, did I mention people don't like it?? They really don't. It's like this, if you're trying to inspire and motivate a team to do their best, to grow, and do big things along the way, coming at them with how right you are kills morale and destroys creative thinking in a "New York second" (why do we say "New York" second anyway? Why not Florida second?).

If a team is led by someone who never models humility and openness to learning, who can't laugh at themselves now and then, there are two possible outcomes. Either the members of the team adopt that same mentality and create another team of people somewhere down the line that aren't inspired, or the team feels like they can't get anywhere; they may even give up. Oh, and then they quickly move on to somewhere else, and follow someone else that makes them feel better and more confident about themselves.

One of the biggest things today's talent want is the opportunity to grow and develop. Actually, now that I think about it, haven't all teams in all times wanted that? Of course they have. Pretty much everyone goes into a workplace hungry to learn and looking for someone to make that possible for them. Someone that believes in them. If their leader fails to model this openness to learn or provide opportunities for growth, the only people that will stick around will be the ones that don't want to grow either. That, my friends, is a total dead end and it can come quickly and quite abruptly (yes, New York second reference again). If there's one thing we've all learned in recent history, is how fast it's being made and to win we have to move with it. Having a team that is on fire for what they do all day long is a team being led by someone with passion and enthusiasm for what they do, for learning more about it, and for sharing that with the people they lead. Exciting stuff.

I've been lucky in my career. I've had some great examples of leaders that taught me, let me fail/learn (often they are simultaneous), and always made me feel I was capable of much, much more. They also reminded me of when I started acting a little too 'big-ikey' (southerners, please help the others with that word), and the lesson for those days was humility. But the biggest thing I learned was that leaders should always be open to and model learning to their teams. Let them see that we don't know everything, because, well, we don't. And the biggest reason is that, after all, our jobs as leaders and our main purpose, is to help our teams grow and develop. If you know everything, it's essentially saying, and modeling, there's nothing to learn. And that wall shuts down progress in a second (insert state name of your choice).

Originally published on LinkedIn.

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