I was in a meeting once and someone on our team defined a leader as one who provides answers and direction to a team.
I understood their concept. I disagreed with the application. A lot.
In fact, I have a different theory.
Good leaders sometimes allow a little chaos and confusion to prevail.
In fact, it can be best for everyone when they do; often providing better outcomes than if the leader simply gives an answer.
- It promotes buy-in by team members.
- It fuels creativity.
- It fosters teamwork.
Here’s the deal. As a team wrestles together for answers some of the greatest discoveries are made — about the team and the individuals on the team.
But getting there is not always easy.
It requires the messiness of sharing competing ideas. It involves testing, making mistakes and trying things, many of which simply won’t work. It involves allowing paradigms, systems and structures to be challenged. It means there will be times when people don’t have all the answers or aren’t sure what’s next.
That sounds like chaos to some people. (Maybe even someone reading this right now.)
I’m not suggesting we don’t search for clarity. We need to better define our systems and structures. We need to help people develop actionable plans towards progress.
Good leadership knows, however, that the best answers often come by allowing the disruption of ideas before everything is made clear.
A question to help me with this thought process:
If the leader always has everything clearly defined — if he or she is always ready with an answer — then why does the leader even need a team? (Certainly why would one call it a team?)
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When leaders surround themselves with team members and empower them to step up to the plate and share their talents, great outcomes evolve.