You may struggle with the same thing I do. I’m often confident I know the right thing to do, and see leadership as convincing others I’m right.
A couple of years ago at a seminar I heard Dr. Sheena Iyengar, of Columbia Business School, say this: “Effective leaders see choice through others’ eyes.” That quote guilted me into a lot of self-reflection. It has helped me take the time for some key questions.
What will this sound like to the team? Often what it will sound like is, “Great, someone else screwed up and we have to pay the price.” Or “No one cares how much work their great ideas cost us.” I need to make sure what they hear is “We’re needed for this, and valued because we can do it. We can really make a difference here.”
How does this reflect what the team values? Leadership is always more effective if it taps into mutually-agreed-upon goals.
Does what I’m asking honor the team? I should never put the hard thing on them just to help out a peer or look good to a higher-up. Instead, I need to make sure the direction I want to go makes the team better in some way too.
It’s hard, but always take a minute before you speak to turn things around and imagine you’re standing there with your teammates hearing your boss say this to you. How would it make you feel? It’s an essential step to making sure what you do is actually leading.