Leaders often ask their employees for input when making decisions big and small, and listen with great sincerity and intent. If workers are given the opportunity to provide input, they figure, workers will be more accepting of the decisions, committed to the process, and invested in the desired outcomes, simply because they feel heard. Not necessarily. The problem is that while asking for input is important, and actively and respectfully listening to what employees have to say is critical, often workers don’t grasp the “bigger picture” that the leader is trying to address. As a result, sometimes a leader reaches conclusions and implements actions that appear to be contrary to the input provided. As a result, employees aren’t likely to get on board, and are more likely to question both the process and outcome. Even worse, they may get angry and lose trust in the leader because they feel as if their thoughtful advice was ignored. If this becomes a frequent pattern of behavior, employees will come to believe that leaders are just pretending to be interested, gathering input primarily to keep people from complaining. Clearly, the answer is not that leaders should abdicate to mob rule and blindly follow
While engaging with other people is a staple of being a good manager, being a successful leader lies in something more: the ability to manage yourself. The world is full of executives who spend their days strategizing and weighing external outcomes, but real leadership means looking inward to find how your own strengths, values, and assets can help you manage yourself as well as others. This process has many pieces to it, but at the heart of it, there are a few core principles that play a vital role in being a leader (versus a manager) and getting the impactful results you want: Spend your time and energy improving on strengths instead of weaknesses. This concept is based on the idea that it takes far more to get from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. As a leader and influencer, why would you spend all of your time and energy trying to be a jack of all trades and a master of none? It’s important to recognize early on that successful individuals excel in one or two areas, as this focus allows them to pursue excellence rather than settling for a skill set
Ordinary management is crucial. The ability to step into a situation, understand the complex web of intertwining relationships, and manage the people and resources to accomplish a goal are critical skills for all executives. According to Mike Chitty in his article, “Ordinary and Extraordinary Leadership”, management is the efficiency-based, improvement-oriented focus on the present situation. Ordinary simply means the implementation of well-known principles to a situation that is relatively black and white. He makes sure to note that ordinary is difficult, and should in no way be undervalued, with even the best managers needing years of practice to master it. Leadership, while not mutually exclusive of management, is the visionary focus on the future. Extraordinary applies to the implication that the solution to a situation is not clear, that there is disagreement and absolutely no guarantee that the steps taken to solve a problem will succeed. The greatest executives within a company must be both managers and leaders. According to Mike Chitty, the set of skills common to all extraordinary leaders includes: Creativity and political/emotional intelligence, confidence, and the ability to work through disagreement. An extraordinary leader will apply an iterative process of hypothesizing, testing, measuring, learning, and trying again.