• The Strategic Perspective

Are you a Strong Leader?

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Do you consider yourself to be a strong leader? What is a strong leader? Is it one that takes full control of every meeting, dominating the conversation?

Do you say that you want a diversity of opinion but are offended when you get push back from an employee on a particular idea or strategy? It’s natural to feel a certain level of discomfort, especially if this is something you put a lot of thought into. However, the level of this reaction is the indicator of your leadership strength.

If you can hold back your immediate defense and ask them to elaborate, then actually listen, that shows strength and security in yourself and your leadership. Do you have a room full of “Yes” men and women? That’s not a very good sign of the culture that you have established.

Crickets chirping or complete agreement means they are either:

Employee A: Afraid to speak up. They are comfortable and don’t want to risk their jobs by rocking the boat. (This is your responsibility, as a leader, to create a culture where they not only feel safe but encouraged to engage.)

Employee B: They are apathetic and are just collecting a paycheck while they hunt for a new job.

Employee C: (Best case scenario) They have a ton of work or an important project that they need to finish and are trying to get back to it ASAP.

Employee D: While not relevant to the above example given, you may have an exceptionally argumentative employee who consistently walks all over you. While rare, this is a sign that they do not respect your authority and you will need to have a private conversation with them to address this.

With the exception of employee “C”, you likely have a major culture/leadership problem within your organization.

If employee “C” feels this way too often, where they are always under the gun, drowning in projects and underappreciated/underpaid, it’s only a matter of time before they turn into employee “B”.

Especially if they could make more money somewhere else. At that point, they might start thinking about their work/life balance and if the grass could be greener at another organization.

Don't lose good employees if you can save them! They are hard to come by and are always in demand.

To run an organization that continuously puts successful ideas, products, and strategies into practice, you need real feedback and respectful back and forth dialogue. Two heads are generally always better than one. Respectful back and forth almost always gives way to a better idea than the original, as long as no one's egos get in the way. Remain mission-focused, not focused on yourself. Create a culture that actually puts this into practice, not one that just says they do.

There is also the saying about too many cooks spoiling the soup. Be careful with committees. You see this happen a lot with governmental organizations. When you try to appease everyone, you usually end up appeasing no one. You are the leader and must use your best judgment, after actually hearing everyone, to turn an idea into an executable plan of action.

Also, never forget to give credit where credit is due. If you don’t do that, you’ll soon be the leader of an all employee “B” company. Never dismiss an employee’s idea simply because it is different than your current standard of practice or structure. That’s a way to turn a potentially great, loyal team member into a potential defector, joining the ranks of your competitors.

Remember, companies/organizations are living, constantly changing entities. A certain structure or standard of practice may have worked for a long time. That doesn’t mean it is still the best structure or standard of practice. Especially if your organization has grown and has most certainly changed, in some way. These things must be constantly reevaluated. A lot of the time, your best ideas will come from the least likely sources.

Never typecast your employees! However, that’s a whole different blog post.