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A True Leader is an Aggressive Listener

August 19, 2013, 4:14 PM
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Much of the leadership literature that's been drafted talks about leadership in a binary way and it implies that there's only two models for leadership - a command and control model and the new model is all about collaboration and a much more democratic bottom-up approach to leadership. 

What we believe through our research that gave birth to our book, As One, is that the leadership challenge is not in fact binary and that there are multiple models that can be used to obtain effective collective action from an organization.  We believe with As One we’ve started that conversation by identifying the eight leader-follower pairs that we amplify in each chapter of the book.  And I think there are others that have yet to be discovered and others that are yet to be articulated.  But thinking that leadership as binary, I think, is a very big mistake.  

Then, finally, I think the leadership challenge is all about strategy execution.  And, when I think about our book, As One, I don't think of it as a leadership book.  I think of it as a book that we have put to help leaders become more effective at their ability to drive strategy execution.  But, when you think about leadership and the challenge of leadership through the lens of it’s all about the ability to execute strategy, then you can ask yourself the question what is the most effective model that can be used to drive execution of this element of the strategy and then have your mind open and ready to listen and ready to collaborate.  

Then maybe if I could just make one more point that you could think about when it comes to your editing process.  And I have no idea what ends up on the cutting room floor here, but I’m respectful of your process and respectful of all that you do.  

As a leader in professional services, I once thought that success was going to be driven by having all of the answers, that you wanted to be the person that people would come to with their questions and then you were the answer person.  You were the person with the answers.  What experience and maturity has taught me is it’s actually more valuable to have the right questions and an ability to listen and work collaboratively than it is to try to hold yourself out as the person with all of the answers.  

So, when I’m working to try help a client succeed, I like to position myself as the person who has the questions that we’re then going to work together collaboratively to try to solve, as opposed to thinking the value is always driven by being the person with all of the answers.  And by having questions and then being willing to be an aggressive listener, I think you have the potential of being a very effective leader in the marketplace that we all are competing in today.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shuttterstock

 

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