There are two kinds of senior leadership. Both work. At least for a while.
The ‘smartest person’ depends on having all the answers and providing all the direction. This leader attracts followers.
The ‘facilitator’ depends on the CEO being surrounded by other smart people and holding them accountable for helping to set direction and making things happen. This leader attracts other leaders.
From a results perspective, the ‘smartest person’ often starts well. But it can fade fast. It’s hard knowing everything, and having to make all the decisions bottlenecks most of today’s fast-paced businesses.
Leading by facilitating is more sustainable because it shares the decision making and leadership load with other smart leaders. Trusting others can be scary. However, the thing about smart people is they often surprise you and they learn from their mistakes.
So, what does it take to look after a team of good leaders?
- Trust in their motivation.
- Respect for their expertise and skills.
- A clear set of expectations.
- Clear accountability for results.
- Encouragement to act, even take a risk.
- Help eliminating roadblocks and barriers.
- Recognition for a job well done.
Leading other leaders takes a lot of confidence. I think it takes more confidence than it takes to be the smartest person in the room.