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What you need to give up to be a good leader

What you need to give up to be a good leader


The conventional wisdom is that leaders are steadfast, and never give up, persisting against all obstacles. But consultant Kevin Eikenberry, on his blog, says that to lead effectively – whether on the shop floor or in the executive suite – you must learn to surrender certain things:

The need to be right: The best leaders are after the best results, and know that won't necessarily come from their ideas. Even if it is the leader's idea, success will be more likely if the group owns it.

The need to speak first: In many situations, it's wise for leaders to shut up, letting team members discuss and explore. The leader's words can inhibit the team's ideas and input.

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The need to decide: There are times when leaders must make the call. But Mr. Eikenberry notes that "often, when leaders let go of their need to decide, others will make the same decision, if not a better one."

The need for credit: Leaders who usurp all the credit for their team's success won't have the support of the team very long.

The need for control: People often seek leadership as an outlet for their desire to control others. But nobody is eager to follow micro-managers and control freaks.

Surrendering these needs can seem like a significant loss. But giving them up, Mr. Eikenberry says, will lead to greater results, greater influence, greater satisfaction and greater significance, which are more meaningful needs to satisfy.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance. E-mail Harvey Schachter

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