It seems obvious. A new leader is given a team of smart people who have been hired because of their abilities and potential. Of course, the new leader will engage them in helping make decisions.
Obvious or not, new leaders – or leaders at any level – struggle with embracing and engaging others.
Whether it is from a fear of showing vulnerability, a desire to move quickly and not get bogged down by conversation, or a need to impress, many new leaders fail to engage their people in problem solving. Engaging others is one of the best ways for a new leader to learn. Asking questions, listening to understand, and seeking advice – begin with the mindset of engaging others.
Engaging others is not merely about gaining buy-in. It’s about creating a better answer. Yes, the leader must make the ultimate decision, but that decision should be informed by the collective wisdom of the team, not the isolated perspective of the leader.
What about your new leaders?
Here are a few questions to get you thinking about the leader you are, or the new leaders you are developing:
- How do new leaders in your organization seek advice and input from a variety of people? Does the organization even encourage or allow such thinking?
- Has a desire to appear in charge caused some new leaders to put too much on their shoulders and isolate themselves from team members?
- What might new leaders do differently in the future to better engage their people?
Take it from me
Twenty-plus years ago, I was an army lieutenant serving as a platoon leader of a 39-person airborne infantry platoon. As a new leader, there were times when I, like many new leaders, failed to engage others. Much like ignoring gravity comes at a price, failing to engage others can be costly as well. Don’t allow yourselves or others to fall into this trap.