Create a Fearless Environment for Your Employees
If you’re a new leader and have reservations about your ability to develop new leaders, don’t worry—you’re not alone.
In fact, the room couldn’t be more crowded, Marcy Tieger says.
“There’s pressure on leaders to have the answers and always be right,” says the managing director of Symphony Advisors. “But it’s important for leaders to say, ‘I don’t know.’”
When that ego is abandoned, two things happen: It creates a more human connection between leaders and their teams, and it fosters an environment where people are fearless, as well. As someone who has consulted shop operators for years, Tieger will tell you that in hierarchical relationships, that’s not just important for the growth of a business—it’s essential.
It may seem inconsequential, but Tieger says the feeling of simply saying “I don’t know” can be liberating and create a system of accountability. When others see that you’re humble and willing to ask for input, it engenders humanist exchanges and creates an environment where people admit to mistakes and ask for help. Thus, when you hold yourself culpable, others will follow suit.
“Subordinates often have a problem doing that and won’t ask for help. Then they cover up mistakes,” she says. “If they model your behavior, they’ll reach out to each other and you and ask for help.”
Often, leaders feel the need to react quickly and “pop off” rather than sleep on a situation at work. Tieger suggests slowing down the way you react. If you have a discussion in front of multiple employees that should have been a one-on-one conversation, apologize to everyone and commit to changing that behavior. If a technician has an idea about a change in the repair process, actually sleep on it and come back with a response. By doing that, you’ll not only empower others, but show you’re a humble, thoughtful first-level leader, too.