We have a friend who has one of the most beautiful kitchens we’ve ever seen. This kitchen has everything: amazing appliances, workstations, lighting, and amenities. It would make professional chefs drool and is truly an inspiring sight to behold.
When talking about the kitchen, we asked, “Who’s the chef?” We know that our friend (let’s call her Sara) can barely heat soup and so we were curious about who was going to be using this amazing kitchen. Sara stated, “Well, I’m hoping to do more cooking but you know me, I’ll probably just order in.”
Her comment reminded us, with a gorgeous analogy, what we find in many leaders. People set up the room to lead, but they don’t do the work to learn how to lead. We hear this all the time when leaders say things like:
- I have an open door policy.
- I walk around the office once a week.
- I want people to give me feedback; I can’t help it if they don’t.
- I put inspiring posters in the cubicle areas.
- People should take initiative more often and not bother me with the small stuff.
Just as a good kitchen is a nice start to becoming a chef, this list of activities is an important part of good leadership. But just as a chef needs to learn to chop vegetables and make a good roux, a good leader needs to learn how to influence others and how to be influenced by others.
If you haven’t seen our innovative definition of Leadership, it’s simply:
and the willingness to be influenced by your world,
regardless of role or title.
When it comes to leading, a lot of leaders understand the need to influence your world (others), but things go sideways when they get to the second half of the equation—being influenced by your world (others).
Many leaders understand the importance of this feedback loop, but they just don’t get how to make it happen. Teaching others how to influence you is critical to good leadership.
To lead effectively you need people in your sphere who know how and when to push back on you so that you make better decisions. Surrounding yourself with critical thinkers is far more effective than being surrounded by “yes men” and “yes women.”
This week, we encourage you to think about the people in your life who you influence (whether at work, home or in the community) and determine whether or not you have taught them to effectively influence you. (If you’re unsure if people know how to influence you, the best thing to do is to ask them with an open and curious mind!)
Let’s get cookin’!
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting