Have you ever had one of those experiences where you’ve offered advice to someone and for whatever reason they just didn’t listen to you? And then someone else comes along, says the same thing, and this person who you’ve been spending time with, pouring your heart and soul into, offering advice that you think is important for them to hear … heeds the advice of someone much less connected to them? Basically the new voice gets the credit for what you’ve been telling them 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.
As leaders, we can either fight this dynamic or embrace it. Embracing it doesn’t mean we give up on giving the direction we need to give. It just means we need to look at our roles in a different way. 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.
Your role as the day-to-day leader in an organization is to be the curator of content. You must bring 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.
This is 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 actually get through to your team and influence change and growth.