The More the Leader Controls the Group, the Less Effective the Results Become
My friend and colleague, Larry Dill, hired me to develop a world-class music program in Huntsville, Alabama. When he called to invite me to consider the position, I asked him, “Where’s Huntsville?” I was in Atlanta, Georgia, at the time and had very little self-awareness of smaller places.
I went to check out the position and, after much consideration, accepted the job. I did so mostly because of Larry. He showed up as a visionary and passionate leader. He showed up to empower the skilled members of the team he put in place. He showed up to model the results he wanted to see.
I can remember sitting in the conference room on numerous occasions, planning programs six months ahead. During many of these sessions, seemingly insurmountable challenges arose. Larry would ask the team a question, presenting how to solve the problem. He would then sit quietly as the team discussed, debated, and defined ideas to answer his question. At the right moment, Larry would simply and calmly interject his comment: “I’ve heard enough. This what we will do.”
He listened, observed, and processed the information coming forth in the meeting. He had a highly competent team. He did not control the process or the conflation of ideas. He, however, remained very much in charge. He demonstrated a high competence as a leader.
The value in planning ahead is that teams can be more creative and effective. Work is more energized and focused. There is less confusion and less destructive conflict.
The polarity in leadership is that by doing less, Larry got more accomplished and helped the team be more productive and creative.
If you are working too hard, maybe you are doing too much. The first trait of Transformational Leadership is to define what to let go of. If you have too much to do, think about this polarity. Do the opposite.
Hmmm…that’s counterintuitive and goes against the work ethic that many leaders have been taught. Well, if it’s not working, then change it.
Define what is not working. Write it down. Define why it’s not working. Define all the potential solutions. Look for solutions that are similar and can be combined for strength. Develop an action plan based on what you discover in this process. The final solution might not be what you had initially expected.
Remember to think about systems. Transformational Leadership is a system – a thinking system, and not a feeling system.
How will you approach your team next in problem solving?
The Transformational Leadership Strategist
(c) 2012 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.