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It Doesn't Have to be Lonely At The Top

When you're the boss, everyone is looking at you for direction and to tell them what to do. However, this puts a lot of pressure on you and it assumes that you're the smartest, most experienced person in the room. In the 21st century, that's a big ask! Your experience may be out-of-date; it may not be relevant in today's circumstances and younger, shorter-tenured employees may have just the experience you don't have! The right experience or knowledge maybe outside the room or on the internet. 'Knowing stuff' isn't as important as knowing where to find it - and being sufficiently open to the idea that a better solution is out there, waiting to be found. "Because I know best..." is a big claim to make!

This requires leaders to be humble and to admit "I don't know. In fact, nobody knows!" The job of the leader then becomes owner of the process to uncover and identify the best way forward. This requires the leader to have a team around them; to be able to trust that team; and to be able to connect and communicate the ideas and points-of-view from the team members. While everyone carries a part of the jigsaw puzzle, it's the leader's job to understand the picture on the front of the box!

Former SAS soldier Floyd Woodrow came to our Vistage meeting to talk about leadership. He described how he would say to his team: "Here's my plan. Now give me a better one!" He would take a better plan over his original plan, any day of the week. And, because everyone has opportunity to interrogate and formulate the plan, there's complete ownership. There's no doubters, detractors or nay-sayers, which is important if you're about to go into military action!

So, the secret of success (as always) is to have a great team around you and to use the collective brains and skills of that team to get the very best solution. Every leading sports team or sports person is supported by coaches, medics, dieticians, sports psychologists and physiotherapists. Great politicians have specialist advisors, counsellors and civil servants to help them make good decisions.

Who's in your team and what do you do to bring them together to get the very best from their collective wisdom? Who challenges you and 'speaks truth to power'? Have you got the humility and confidence to say "I don't know, but let's find an answer together?"

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