Businesswomen and Businessman Team on whiteTwo recent client coaching sessions inspired me to share with you the way the workplace is shifting. Today’s leaders must understand that the old rules no longer apply in this era of diversity and the need for constant innovation, which an be derived by gathering input from all levels of an organization.

Lesson #1 : Coaching a senior team as they prepared for a department-wide meeting about recent employee survey results, I listened as they talked about sharing the findings.  When they began discussing a timeline for getting back to employees with solutions to the problems raised, I had to put the brakes on.

“This idea,” I said to them, “is a trap.  It’s unlikely that you can develop viable solutions to problems raised by others, without involving them.”  I suggested they get the workforce involved so that they’ll all be able to dive deeper, better understand the issues, craft and vet recommended solutions effectively.

It’s an old, paternalistic, command-control notion to think that management has all the answers or must be solely responsible for developing them.  Those affected by the problem have a valuable perspective and energy to lend to the solution.

Lesson #2: A senior leader asked me to work with him on several challenges, one of which is how to get his team to be more participative during staff meetings.  He invited me to a staff meeting to witness him in action.  Within ten minutes, the problem became crystal clear.  He talked too much.

He took over every conversation.  The unintended impact:  in the eyes of his team, he made himself the smartest and most important person in the room.  His behavior deadened the energy of the group and sucked the life out of the room.

As a leader, your job is to take the spotlight off of yourself and create space for members of your team to shine – during staff meetings, meetings with senior management, or on cross-functional teams.  You can do this by listening more and talking less.  That’s where the true power lies.

Intentionally look for ways to allow your team to use their knowledge and talents, and to apply their bright ideas to business opportunities and challenges.  You’ll help them mature into capable leaders of tomorrow – which is a KEY part of your job.

For more tips on thriving in today’s evolving workplace, check out my Office Talk Reports, heard daily on KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia.  You can listen to or read these quick 60 second tips on my website


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