“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
"Be not wise in your own eyes." Proverbs 3:7
It's possible to get a read on the health of almost any leader. Usually, this is determined by a variety of factors including their honesty, integrity, openness, and willingness to have candid conversations. Staff always have a read on their leaders. They know when the subject matter is taboo to discuss with on in the presence of their manager or leader. This taboo subject matter is a definitive indicator of insecurities and can result in a leader demonstrating narcissistic tendencies that include authoritative control and excessive micromanagement. However, the higher the willingness of a leader to address issues in the culture and their leadership, the healthier their leader will be. Add to this that the best leaders will allow and even encourage their staff to put issues on the table even if it is about them. The following are two factors indicative of leadership health.
Two factors of leadership health.
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One | Unthreatened self-worth
Leaders with high levels of health are leaders who foster a "nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and nothing to hide" attitude. In other words, they are not afraid of pushback, criticism, suggestions or change. When wrong they do not get defensive, over-explain, and blame others. Sometimes they will own up and even take the heat for someone else's mistake on the team. And because they have nothing to prove it's okay if team members get something wrong. But it is also okay if a subordinate gets the credit too. Their pride or ego in unaffected by wins as much as losses. They are far less concerned about wins and losses but rather how they consistently play the game. Anyone with this attitude is a leader who cares deeply about their leadership and the impact it has on people and therefore is unthreatened personally.
Two | Openness to dialogue
What does it mean to invite open dialogue? It means that other than personal attacks or issues that hijack the given agenda, any problem is free for discussion. And why? Because leadership is not about a win for a single person but the win for the mission of the organization, therefore issues openly discussed result in solutions that must be addressed. Open dialogue about issues allows a team and leader moments to bond. The best leaders foster this kind of public discussion around their table. There are no issues that cannot be raised with the two exceptions above. It is evident that this type of leadership requires a leader with a non-defensive posture. But if we live by the value that we have nothing to prove, nothing to lose and nothing to hide, robust dialogue becomes possible – even when the comments had openly are about a leader or leadership adjustment that needs to be made.
The key to both of these values is that the leader must live them out. When staff finally comprehend that their leader lives non-defensively and is not threatened by those who disagree with them or even criticize them, they will start to do the same. It's in this kind of culture that the best decisions are made because it invites high levels of candid conversation and honesty. If you lead, consider making these two values present in your leadership circle. But be prepared to swallow your pride and become less defensive.
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.