Part 1 – Bad leaders listen from anxiety.
The first bad leaders I met were teachers. I was a precocious and challenging student. I would object to lessons, I would speak up in class, I would be deeply engaged, and then suddenly bored.
The best teachers understood the kind of student I was and used my curiosity to help deepen the topics we were learning and when it was time to move on they let me know. I would accept their guidance because they accepted me.
The other teachers, the less good ones, were threatened by me. They were anxious, insecure, and just wanted to get through the day. They would try to quiet me down and as a result, I would only speak up and push back more. Everything got worse for both of us.
Working with someone who is brilliant but wiley can be a double-edged sword. They do amazing work, but they also challenge you more. If you’re solid in your leadership you can harness this energy for good.
So what’s the key to success?
Learn to listen from confidence and curiosity.
When you listen to challenges and accept them, people feel seen and heard. And what’s amazing is that this is the main thing they need. You might think they need you to agree with them, or put their ideas into action, but often they don’t. They just want to be given a fair shot to make their case and once they are heard they will accept the decisions you make.
But so many leaders never learn this. They feel threatened when their worldview or choices are challenged. Then from insecurity, they tamp down innovation and new ideas and they squander the brilliance of their most innovative teammates.
If you’ve got a brilliant but wiley member of your team or you want to stop complaining about how people won’t drop things or that your team isn’t engaged enough. Try simply listening and accepting people’s ideas. Make sure they feel seen and heard.
You’ll be amazed at the team and energy it creates.