Many managers think that they initially need to present a finished idea to their team. They think that this pre-decided plan is what makes them a strong leader who makes solid decisions and leads the troop. The presented idea is of course (well, should be) based on very useful experience and knowledge but often the belief is that they show forcefulness and leadership. Well, this is a myth. Of course, as a leader you must believe in what you do. If you have a feeling what you do is important then you become strong. And when you become strong then the team becomes strong. The ‘important feeling’ can derive from a micro level as well as a macro level. It all depends on context and what is important at the time. And pass on this notion and belief to the team.
Over my many years of being a leader I have learnt to present some kind of vision to my team. After that I tend to be uninterested in the actual original idea – as there will be better versions after talking to others. These clever people (and often the guys on the ‘ground’ doing the work linked to the idea) will have thoughts and views and, via other thought processes, thinking of things I haven’t, or actually simply confirming that the idea is good but there may be a different solution. Therefore, I urge all you managers out there to let go of your ‘set in stone’ vision and open it up for discussion. Then you will reach the best outcome!
On many occasions I have heard people say: “maybe it didn’t turn out perfectly but at least I stuck to my original idea”. That is silly. Crazy even. It is better to have a new and BETTER idea which will be the outcome after running it by others. You may ask the question whether it is then important to have a really clear vision to begin with? Well, if all managers or leaders are totally honest with themselves they probably don’t have a totally set or clear vision to begin with, they kind of make it up; pretend. And this is a good thing! Hear me out.
You have to start with some kind of idea (based on experience and thoughts and something you can work with) and THEN you change it (if necessary – as it could just be the most awesome idea ever and everyone you run it by agrees with you…but it is likely that someone will say “hang on…what about this and we can do that instead…”).
We need leaders in this world. Really good ones. But as a team we flourish! And leaders and managers cannot be scared of being a part of the team – don’t worry…you are still ‘senior’, you still have the ‘power’ and you can put your managerial foot down etc (if that is what thrives you), BUT in order to have the best outcome and be the best leader you need to involve others. I am obviously someone who would never hesitate to put my foot down to make the final decision. Democracy is great. For a while. However, after people have spoken and made suggestions THEN it is time for the leader to make the decision on which way to go and can then clearly explain why the decision has been taken and staff tend to accept those decisions. Collecting people’s thoughts is important.
I have never been a micromanaging manager who looks over people’s shoulders. When the team sees that the other members in the team are performing then they don’t want to be the ones not performing. Various staff I work with know I often talk about ‘upwards spiral’ and ‘downwards spiral’. This is an upwards spiral which creates a brilliant and hardworking team who does not despise doing what they do, going the extra mile or helping each other – and their manager. Because no manager is an island.
And after this whole process you are left with something you really believe in. Don’t ever present anything as final before you really believe in what you say and then when you believe in it you just believe in it. And you run with it. And your team mates will be cheering you on, you can be sure of that. And that’s a great win in itself.