Leadership for Life – Use Your Head

By on May 15, 2012
Use Your Head

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

I came across an article (http://www.generationaldiversity.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=managing-by-reason-rather-than-rules.html&Itemid=13) by Bob Wendover, the founder of the Center for Generational Studies, the other day. He points out that when dealing with people who are new in the organization, simply telling them what to do and how to do it may be a good short term solution, but can cause problems in the long run. Wendover says:

“When things are busy, it is always so much easier to simply answer a question rather than stop to reason through the solution with the questioner. The problem this creates is a learned dependence on you, as a manager, for all decisions. When there is uncertainty involved and you aren’t immediately available, some people will retreat to hiding behind the rules even if those rules don’t make sense… If we want those we supervise to develop and use their own problem solving skills in ambiguous situations, we must draw a line in the sand and encourage (or maybe force) them to take ownership for decisions that lay squarely within their job responsibilities. They need to exert reason and not just hide behind the rules.”

While Wendover is focusing on how to work with the Millennial Generation, he touches on a general principle of leadership: one of a leader’s most important responsibilities is to develop the next generation of leaders. If we, as leaders, simply give instructions, we don’t help people to develop their own critical thinking skills, nor do we help people learn how to deal with exceptions to the rules we lay down. In real life, whenever we deal with employees, customers, friends, family, et al, most of what we encounter are exceptions.

Effective leaders aim to help their people think through problems and questions in order to come up with their own solutions. These solutions may not turn out to be the ones we would select, but if they work just as well, not only do we solve problems, but we help people to use their skills and judgment in future situations.

The Corporate Solutions group at St. Louis Community College has lots of experience in helping organizations develop leaders. For more information, feel free to call me at 314-539-5329 or send an e-mail to bschapiro@stlcc.edu.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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