You don’t need to know everything to be an Inspiring Leader!

Do you hold the belief that you need to “know it all” before you are qualified to lead a team? Are you putting your leadership aspirations on hold until you get enough experience and technical knowledge? Are you waiting to feel absolutely ready before you apply for that leadership role?

I am curious about this need to be fully equipped with knowledge before stepping into a leadership role. I admit, I probably shared the same beliefs while navigating my career, and I also recognize how limiting that was for me. If I had been more intentional about understanding what leadership meant to me and what it looked like in action, I would have realized that technical prowess was not necessarily what would make me an effective leader.

Let’s change the paradigm for a minute. What if leadership was actually about your ability to get the best thinking from your team, your colleagues and your board of directors? What if your role was to act as a facilitator for great dialogue, brainstorming and problem solving with the people around you? What if the answers were within the people around you, and didn’t have to come from you all the time. Whew, that takes the pressure off a bit!

We crave leaders who inspire us and empower us to be our best at work so that we can feel engaged and contribute in a meaningful way. The challenge is that most leaders have no idea how to do this. Somehow, we think that leaders need to have all the answers, make the tough decisions and show us the way forward. And in the end, we resent the fact that we weren’t involved in the process and we aren’t as committed to the outcome. According to the Gallup Organization’s worldwide Engagement survey, only 13% of employees are engaged at work. There are many factors at play that contribute to that low engagement rating, but I am willing to bet that managers are playing a role in disengagement, and there is clearly room to move the needle.

Last week I had the pleasure of being the closing plenary speaker at the National Philanthropy Day Summit in Vancouver, BC. I am shared this new paradigm for leadership and invited the audience to think differently about the key skills of leadership. Instead of knowing and directing skills, I am suggesting that listening and asking great questions will inspire their teams to greatness. And my key message is that leadership is not about us, the leader; it is about our ability to unleash the potential in others. This is the challenge for leaders everywhere, to practice the skills that tap into the talents and passion of those you lead.

What kind of leader do you want to be?