Comic image about listening to the wrong voices

Do you pride yourself in being the one with the answers? The person who, when opinions differ or decisions need to be made, is always right? There was a time I felt that way about myself, until I realized there was something very wrong with being the person who is always right.

As a leader, being the one who is “always right” does a wicked number on open, honest communication within your team. It also puts a wedge between you and your immediate peers, as well as other business colleagues, friends, and let’s not forget family. In fact, the leader who is “always right” may have one of the right answers, it just may not be the best right answer.

In school, I did not like the professors whose tests required me to select ‘the best’ right answer. You know what I mean? A, B, or C were not technically wrong, they just weren’t the best choice.

We face with those kinds of tests all the time at work. The difference is, now bringing other people into the decision-making process is not considered cheating. We don’t have to have all the knowledge in our own heads or be “the one” to have the right answer.

As a leader, your A, B, or go-to C may be fine, as in nothing terrible will happen if things go your way. However, having the wisdom and courage to seek-out rich discussion, differing opinions, and alternative options, will often lead you to the “D” answer. The one which turns out to be the best possible decision of all – and something you wouldn’t have come up with alone.

Let’s look at this again… If you are a leader who feels pride in being with the one with all the answers, you surely have an answer in most situations. The problem is, because you believe your answer is the answer, you (probably unknowingly) stifle input and discussions that may lead to something totally new and more effective than ever before. You also (hopefully also unintentionally) dumb-down your team by not allowing or encouraging time to brainstorm, safely share differing perspectives, and think-through potential possibilities.

In reality, as leaders, our brilliance lies in the teams we build and participate on – not so much in us as individuals. The higher we go “up the corporate ladder” the less important our technical expertise becomes. Instead, our success is found in our ability to listen, stay curious, welcome alternative ideas, and foster collaboration, so to assure our group doesn’t settle for A, B, or C, when there was an off-the-charts D, waiting to surface.

Now is a perfect time to check-in with yourself and consider:

  • When was the last time your team had a robust discussion?
  • When was the last time your team determined a course of action that was not your idea?
  • How do you typically react when an idea is put forth that is not yours?
  • Who does most of the talking in your meetings?

Your answers to those questions may provide you some valuable insight. Maybe you are fostering an environment that leads to the most effective outcomes.  Or maybe not.  If you are a leader (by title or informally) who is always right, you just might be listening to the wrong voice (yours).

Contact us today for more information on building a collaborate team grounded in trust.

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