Leaders should have all the answers, right?
If you always have the answer to everything, or an answer for everything that’s wrong, you are probably doing yourself — and your team — a disservice.
Let me tell you a little story.
Many years ago I came to have yet another new boss at a company where I excelled well beyond my pay grade. But this time she had called me into her office for what I’ll call “an uncomfortable conversation.”
I sat there and talked about the whys and wherefores.
She sat behind her desk, watching me silently, and letting me go on for a while. Then she said, “You have an answer for everything.”
I felt deflated.
I felt insulted.
I felt as if my work ethic was being questioned.
But for all the good points I was making, I could not help but feel that she had pegged a big flaw in me: I did have an answer for everything.
Instead of taking in the feedback and taking corrective action, I instinctively tried to deflect the blame, and to defend myself.
In the lower rungs of your career, you will probably find lots and lots of people who are more than willing to tell you the truth about yourself.
Now that you have risen into leadership in a corporate setting, or as the leader in your own business, who can really get in your face and call you on your own BS?
People who depend on your for their livelihood might be too scared. Your peers may or may not be interested in letting you know where you have a blind spot that can affect your performance — or at worst, crater your career.
That’s where an executive coach like me can help you.
As someone who has made her living in tech for more than 15 years, I’ve seen my share of super-smart people who can talk their way out of anything. I’ve also seen my share of genuine leaders who really want to break out of the rut they find themselves in, even if said rut looks quite appealing to other people outside their circumstances.
The higher up you are, the more you are surrounded by handlers who will do their best to interpret the world for you, instead of letting you experience the ugly, unvarnished truth.
Those handlers have their place, but once in a while, make sure you have unfiltered conversations. Perhaps not everything will sound like a pat on the back, but you will be equipped to make better decisions.