How Good Leaders Let Others Have a Voice
Have you ever had one of those experiences where you’ve offered advice to someone and for whatever reason they didn’t listen to you? You’ve spent time pouring your heart and soul into them, offering advice that you think is important for them to hear but got no response.
Then someone less connected comes along, says the same thing, and their advice gains acceptance. The new voice gets the credit for what you’ve been saying all along.
It happens all the time. With our families. With our friends. With our staff.
For much of my leadership life, I’ve been irritated by this dynamic. I can give direction over and over, but it’s often an outside voice that breaks through.
Often I’m tempted to double-down and try to be more emphatic with my direction or coaching. My team “should” listen to me. “I’m the leader”, is the reframe in my mind.
When I’m finally willing to acknowledge my pride and look at this from a different perspective, I realize that I can be far more intentional in using outside voices to my advantage.
Embrace Outside Voices
As leaders, we can either fight this dynamic or embrace it. Embracing it doesn’t mean we give up on giving direction; it just means we need to look at our roles differently. While we need to both speak and model the way, we can also embrace outside voices to reinforce the principles we’re trying to cultivate in our teams.
Bring in other voices to speak to the issues your team needs to hear. You can’t say it all, and they won’t listen to you all the time anyway.
Rather than feel the need to be the one with every brilliant idea, bring voices you trust to say what your team needs to hear.
It’s an act of humility because it means acknowledging that outside voices will often be stronger than yours. It’s a willingness to let go of the need to be the “know-it-all” and trust that your job is really to bring the information to the table in whatever form will get through to your team, thereby influencing change and growth. Your role as the day-to-day leader in an organization is to be the curator of content.
If you’re frustrated that your voice is not being heard by your team, here are a five ways that you can make sure they are hearing what you want them to hear.
What books have shaped your thinking as a leader? What books have provided insight and direction to you? Choose a book to read together as a team. Choose something that is applicable to an area of focus or learning for your staff right now. Then determine whether you’ll read a book once a month or once a quarter. Set a pace that works for you, select a book, buy it for your team and then discuss a chapter or two in your weekly staff meetings.
2. Articles and Podcasts
There are endless resources that you can recommend to your team. As you discover an article that you find helpful, pass it along. Encourage them to subscribe to newsletters or podcasts that you trust. Occasionally, you may find an article that you assign your team to read and then discuss together.
3. Invite guest speakers
For key staff meetings or volunteer trainings, bring in guest speakers to share with your team. You might bring in well-known thought leaders and speakers, but if that is cost prohibitive you can also invite local business leaders. With a little coaching, they can bring important concepts and ideas to help train your staff and volunteers.
4. Conferences and Learning Cohorts
In some cases going to a conference or a learning cohort can be just what a staff member needs to help them think differently. As Pastor Mark Batterson says, “change of place + change of pace = change of perspective.”
5. Learn from your team
A powerful way to increase the value of learning in your culture is to ask your staff what they are reading and learning. Perhaps give them an opportunity to share in a staff meeting the latest article or book they have read. Inviting them to share values their voice and continues to introduce more ideas to your team.
Become a Curator of Content
When you embrace your role as the curator of content rather than the deliverer of content, you can relinquish the need to be the one developing all the ideas, and instead, direct your energy to find voices who can help say it for you. You become a curator of content.
Scour online courses, YouTube content, training resources from subject experts, podcasts, and business leaders in your community. Identify conferences that will help equip your staff with information valuable to their role and invest in sending them to these events. Look around you for people who are saying what you need to say but perhaps in a different way.
And when you see that “ah ha” look in your team’s eyes, don’t get frustrated or jealous that someone else said it. Be proud of the fact that you made the connection.
Being a leader doesn’t mean being the only voice. It means knowing how to curate the many voices that will bring the right ideas to help your team effectively carry out the mission.
Keep leading well.
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group
** Are You New to The 4Sight Group? **
As leaders, we’re full of ideas and initiatives. We see potential and opportunity all around. We can almost taste the outcome, but often we get bogged down by how we’ll get from here to there.
The “how” can be overwhelming and discouraging, so we give up on our goals or fail to build a plan to help us achieve them.
These five steps will get you and your team on the path to moving from ideas to action! We’d love to have you join our community and access this free PDF!
If you would like to receive weekly insights from Jenni, subscribe here!
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.