Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

You need a better reason for doing something than “Because I said so,” even though there are times when you have to be the decider and drop the illusion of management through democracy.

Listen, listen, listen. I saw that theme in several of the interviews I did with some of the most senior executives in American business.

Some of those leaders made critical communication errors—by accident. They thought they were simply sharing their opinions with their people, but because they outranked those who were listening, it was assumed the executives were shutting down the discussion and the decision was made.

Some admit that they made decisions without hearing their people out—and that was to their peril, because their people already had answers that would have prevented bad decisions and the subsequent fallout.

Sometimes it is hard to communicate because subordinates are intimidated by the people who outrank them.

I asked several of the leaders about the intimidation factor and they said they understand it, but they don’t like it. That intimidation makes their jobs more difficult because their people may not feel comfortable enough to give them important information that may be negative or upsetting. They have to work to break down that intimidation so they can get to the truth. They know they aren’t always successful at it.

If you are in a position of leadership, recognize that you may be intimidating others just because of your title.

I remember being a new bureau reporter at The Miami Herald and getting nervous every time managing editor Vicki Gowler walked into the office. A chill followed her! I am not kidding. I was twenty-six years old and I was so intimidated by her position. She broke that down the day I ran in with a huge story that was due in less than an hour. I had to write the story and type in a large chart—but there was too much to do and no time to do it. Gowler walked over to my desk, asked for my notes for the chart and sat down and typed it in herself. That’s when I decided to be a leader, not a boss when I move to a higher position.

Nearly two decades later, I still remember that gesture, because it said everything about how she valued the newspaper, the story, her team—and me.

Fawn Germer delivers more courageous and creative performance to the organizations that hire her to work with their people. For more information, write or call 727-467-0202.

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