“The best leaders are very often the best listeners. They have an open mind. They are not interested in having their own way but in finding the best way“ – Wilfred Peterson
I saw this on an email and like the saying. It reminds me of the true story my Sister told me the other day. She was in a leadership class and two groups were organized to perform a task. One was a group with traditional leadership style…. Managers at the top with clear definition of authority, and the person at the top was a traditonal manager. The other group was made up of a non-traditional leadership style and the person in charge normally was the public relations person for a department. One the Chief, One a People person. One group very obviously the “traditional” pyramid style, the other the “non-traditional” collaboration style.
Their job? To put together two matching lego toys. The instructor gave this lego toy to each group and timed how long it took for each group to put together the toy. My sister was in the collaboration group and she said that the Leader in her group put the box on the middle of the table and instructed the group that they had to put the toy together and they were being timed on it. Her group immediately started opening the box, one person looking at the instructions, another sorting the blocks. One person said “My kids do this all the time and you just follow the pictures”. Every now and then her group’s leader would pipe up and provide a bit of guidance or advice. They soon put the Lego toy together and announced to the Instructor that they were done.
They looked across to the “traditional leadership” group. And there across the room, their Lego box was barely opened, the leader still reading the instructions. The toy was a long way from being complete.
My Sister’s leader “empowered” her members to take an active role and to collaborate on the project. They identified the areas that they were able to excel in and quickly and without issues divided up duties. The traditional leader controlled the project. Duties were not divided. Individuals did not identify their strengths and take part in the project. They were waiting for their leader to hand them a role and nothing happened.
The moral to this story? Empower people. You might be surprised what can happen!