Inspired Leadership

The Myth of the Lone-Wolf Leader

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Why Unleashing Your Team Breeds Brilliance

We’ve all seen it: the leader who swoops in with the answer, radiating an air of “because I said so.” It feels efficient, sure. But it’s a recipe for missed opportunities and a stifled team. As leaders, we often fall prey to the illusion that we have all the answers.  We’re the ones at the helm, right? But here’s the secret none of us want to admit: leadership is not a solo act. It’s a collaborative masterpiece, and the key ingredient is something far more powerful than our own authority – it’s the collective brilliance of our teams. I like to use the analogy of an orchestra. Your role is the conductor. You should not be playing all the instruments or telling the violinist how to play the violin. You need to select the score (set the vision), set the beat (establish cadence and objectives), arrange the composition (who is doing what) and lead (inspire, motivate, redirect, encourage) from the front. And in so doing you are letting the musicians do their best.

Yes, we may have the experience and the big-picture view. But guess what? Our teams bring something just as vital to the table: diversity of thought.  They hail from different backgrounds, have unique viewpoints, and possess a wellspring of ideas waiting to be tapped. Shutting them down because “we know best” is not just arrogant, it’s a massive missed opportunity.

Here’s the trap we fall into: authority bias. When we leaders share our ideas first, we inadvertently pressure our teams to agree. Not because our ideas are necessarily good, but because, well, we’re the boss. And let’s face it, who wants to contradict the person signing their paycheck? This creates an echo chamber, where good (but limited) ideas get parroted back, while potentially better ones get left on the table.

Think about it this way: you hired your team for a reason. You saw the spark, the talent, the fresh perspective they bring. So why silence them?  Empowering your team to think critically, disagree constructively, and propose alternatives is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of incredible strength.

This isn't about diminishing your role as a leader.

All the magic to happen by unleashing the power of your teams diversity image

A Broader Spectrum of Solutions: With more minds at work, you get a wider range of ideas. It’s like having a toolbox filled with every tool imaginable, not just your trusty hammer. Different approaches cater to different situations, leading to more creative and impactful solutions.

Informed by Experience: Your team members don’t exist in a vacuum. They come with their own experiences, both professional and personal. These diverse perspectives enrich the decision-making process, ensuring solutions are well-rounded and consider multiple angles.

Beyond the Obvious: Sometimes, we get stuck in our own heads. We see things through the lens of our past experiences, which can limit our creativity. A team, however, brings a fresh set of eyes to the table, challenging assumptions and sparking innovation. You might be surprised by the hidden gems they unearth!

Your expertise and guidance are still crucial. But instead of dictating the path, think of yourself as a facilitator.

 

Guide the conversation, ask probing questions, and encourage open discussion. Here are some tips to get you started:

 

  1. Start with Open-Ended Questions: Instead of presenting your solution, ask questions that spark discussion. “What are your thoughts on this challenge?” or “How do you see us approaching this?” are great conversation starters.
  2. Actively Listen: Give your team your full attention. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk; truly listen to their ideas, concerns, and suggestions.
  3. Embrace Dissent: Disagreement doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be a catalyst for better solutions. Acknowledge differing viewpoints and encourage respectful debate.
  4. Celebrate Participation: Let your team know their contributions are valued. Recognise their ideas, both big and small. This fosters a culture of participation and psychological safety, where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts.

Use the Inspired Leadership Inclusive Communication approach to unleash the diverse thinking in the team:

The Inclusive Communication Approach

The Inspired Leadership Inclusive Leadership Approach Image

Remember, a diverse team isn’t just about ticking a box. It’s about unlocking the potential that comes from a multitude of perspectives.  By letting go of the “lone-wolf leader” mentality and embracing the power of collaboration, you’ll be amazed at the level of innovation and success your team can achieve.  So, step back, control your need to be seen as clever, all-knowing and oh-so-wise, and watch the magic happen.  After all, the best ideas rarely come from a single source. They’re born from the collective brilliance of a team that feels valued, heard, and unleashed.

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“I was once told by a very senior female executive at a women’s leadership training course, that women are very good at working exceptionally hard and expecting what we do to stand out and that should be enough to be noticed and promoted. The impact is that the more we do, the longer the hours, the more we produce, the less balance we have and the more porous our work and personal boundaries become. She said these profound words which have stuck with me ever since: No one will create your boundaries for you, that’s your job! No one will ever tell you to work less. So put your own foot down, no one can do that for you!”

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