Zack asked:

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

Anne Loehr, Senior Leadership Consultant responded:

I’d suggest using Jim Collins’ 80/20 rule, which says that the best leaders listen 80% of the time and speak 20% of the time. During that 20%, good leaders actually ask probing questions to dig deeper into the conversation.

Why is this an important skill for first-time leaders? Leaders initially were good at a technical skill. A good programmer will get promoted to lead an IT team; good sales people are asked to lead a sales team. Yet a leader’s job is very different than an individual contributor’s (IC) job. An IC’s job is to complete the task; a leader’s job is to empower their team to do their best thinking about the task, and find better ways to execute the task. To do this, leaders need to listen to their team and ask probing questions to help their employees think outside the box.

So this week, try listening more and talking less. You’ll learn a lot more about your team, and your team will be empowered to share ideas and find new solutions for the organization. That’s a win-win for all!

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