I came out of Business School having used the case study method, where the professor speaks 10 percent of the time, and the students do the rest. It’s tremendously valuable in private equity to ask questions rather than do all the "telling". When you need the company to grow, you’ll get better answers than if you, the C.E.O., try to come up with most of the ideas and impose them. You actually get better work out of folks as a result of asking them to bring more to the strategy of the business.
Let me say something that’s going to sound surprising. As C.E.O. today, you actually can’t get anything done without your people.
We can all understand this as we have all been at the bottom of the ladder, with bosses who inspire and some who do not. As a leader, if I have a really good idea and I go tell people, “Hey, you have to go do this,” or I impose it on them, people wonder, what does she really mean? It’s open to so much misinterpretation and confusion that actually you’re doing more harm for the organization than you are good.
So the job of the C.E.O. becomes, “Hey everybody, what are everybody’s good ideas? O.K., and what’s yours? That’s awesome. What do you think of that? Hmm,.."
Now, anybody can have a different view and it strengthens decision making.
I was reminded of this by a book recommended to me by one of Canada's leading coaches, Sharon Ranson who runs The Ranson Group, coaching executives in the financial industry. The Leadership Challenge is written by Kouzes and Posner and I assumed it would be a quick flip book but slowed down to appreciate the detailed examples. The Leadership Challenge is well worth a read over this holiday season, perhaps with a glass of eggnog?
You can reach Sharon Ranson at sranson At theransongroup.com