Two Heads are Better than One

Women as Leadersby Susan West

Any business executive or manager, who thinks that she knows-it-all and doesn’t require the help of others, is sure to be eating her words sooner rather than later. There’s a saying that goes… “Two heads are better than one.” Well, as far as being an effective leader goes, you need more than just two heads. In fact, surrounding yourself with an entire team of extraordinary people is what you should be doing.

My favorite years in corporate America were when I had a team of seven folks reporting to me. We were very complimentary in our skill sets and strengths. Although, I was the Vice President, and they reported to me, each one knew they were the leader in their area of expertise. We set up projects and each Manager was responsible for leading their project. I became one of the team players on their project. Being a powerful leader is knowing when to lead and when to follow.

Working alone and trying to do as much as possible, single handedly, you risk becoming burned out. A team can help to generate a lot more ideas, which would be beyond the scope of a single person. Some managers have the propensity to go with the first solution that they reach, without even acknowledging the possibility of other solutions. But if the same person was working with a team, she would be more likely to keep searching for a better answer, even if it seemed that the right one had already presented itself. To let go of your role as the Manager for the moment and participate with the team letting someone else lead is very powerful. It takes patience, courage and a keen sense of listening to take this step. Engaging others to be the leader and you being part of a team is terrific role modeling and a great use of talent.

An important aspect of leading is how you go about creating your team. There is a tendency for managers to surround themselves with people who they are at ease with, regardless of what they bring to the table. Having people you are comfortable with will feed your ego and may give you a false sense of accomplishment. While this can help to enhance your self esteem, it is doing nothing to increase your leadership power. That can only come from appointing and working with people who can fill your knowledge gaps, can challenge your thinking and can lend their experience to compliment yours.

One of my favorite leaders and author, Bill George, who in his book Authentic Leadership writes,

“As a leader, I have always surrounded myself with people who are more knowledgeable and experienced than I am. The key is having people around you who complement your weaknesses and make up for your lack of experience. This seems obvious, but how many CEO’s fail to do so in building their teams? It is a real danger sign when leaders only appoint people with whom they feel comfortable.”

What this essentially indicates is that leaders should sometimes be willing to allow a team member to take charge. Not only should they let the team member lead, but should also follow their lead. By doing so, leaders can achieve a balance of knowledge, proficiency and confidence, which is a great challenge for any leader to achieve. By giving charge to someone in your team, you will not be giving up control, but will only be delegating authority and providing the opportunity to watch and contribute to one of your team member’s professional growth.

Engage Others to Lead and Unleash Your Leadership Power!

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