Trust in Others

CONFESSION: For me, the hardest thing about leadership is slowing down and putting trust in others to lead.

The servant leadership concept is simple: Teach values and set goals, then let your team have a voice and participate in the outcome. Easy to study. Even easier to teach. The devil is in the doing.

I’m constantly resisting the temptation to tell leaders how to do their job. Even worse, I often do their jobs for them. When I do that, I become the dreaded micromanager. As leaders, we often become like parents who want our children to embrace our approach to life. We need to embrace listening instead. As a father of five children, I’ve found this is a powerful leadership discipline for inspiring this next generation. We need to give them vision and actually use their ideas. If we refuse to listen, we will be surrounded by useless minions who refuse to speak or think for themselves.

Like a child who desires to grow up, our team is telling us they want to do it themselves. So, allow them room to fail. This is hard. It might cost time or money. But this is how we will teach them. This takes wisdom and balance, so be selective when and where you hand over authority. Plan failure into your business model. Fail small at first, but don’t think you can avoid it. People don’t learn lessons from lectures or books alone, but from experience. So, like I teach my kids, glean from the lessons that only failure can provide.

Like Nelson Mandela said: “I never lose. I either win or I learn.”

This is a relevant model not only for raising kids, but for marketers too. Brands are enlisting consumers and employees to become self-actualized as leaders, because this generation wants to have a voice. They want the opportunity to lead. Don’t give them a task to do. Don’t sell them a product to buy. Provide them with a worthy cause to join. They will lead change in your industry with you.

– Excerpt from: Surfing The Black Wave: Brand Leadership in a Digital Age