Leaders Make Unpopular Choices

I said in response to a recent comment on my blog, What is Trump’s Leadership Style, that I would answer their question in a blog. The question was, “How does a good leader form and trust him/herself to set a direction that you know won’t have strong foundational support?”

To me that’s an issue that leaders deal with virtually every day. My answer is simply, do your job. Granted that can be interpreted in a number of ways so from a Dreambounded Leadership perspective here are three things to help clarify. Think: role; relevance; and resonance.

Role: leaders are not separate from the team or groups they lead. They like everyone else have a limited role in the group and hopefully they have done their best to understand the skills, aptitudes and so forth that can benefit them and the rest of the group in doing their job.

On a football team for example, the quarterback is a leader and a halfback is not expected to know what a quarterback knows anymore than the quarterback is supposed to know what the halfback knows. Both have limitations on their roles and they require each other in order to fully engage as a team. Everyone has a role on the team – know your role intimately and how all roles in the team fit together.

Relevance:  Teams are dynamic meaning that you can’t change a small thing without changing the whole thing. That’s a useful idea for all members of the team and for leaders it implies that knowing what team members see from their unique points of view is part of the job description. Leaders have the unique opportunity to ask anyone on the team about their unique view of things.

Make yourself relevant as leader by knowing team member’s perspectives – it’s your job to ask individuals directly (not through a survey) about what they see from the unique aspects of their activities.

Resonance: the foundation for leadership decisions is energetic, not logical. That doesn’t mean that leaders don’t use logical thinking in providing themselves with options. It just means that a logical conclusion that does not support engagement in a fundamentally resonant arena for the whole team could use some more consideration. Taking advantage of the team, misrepresenting, discriminating, etc. do not make for a resonant energetic arena. Doing your job is knowing what commonly resonates with the whole group – the job of leadership is continually building on resonance and that requires trusting your intuition.

As a quarterback on my college football team many years ago, my role was leader on the field and I would call the plays. Often one or more players on the team weren’t happy with the plays that I called. In the end however I tried to do those three things I outlined above: my role was to call the plays and the team expected me to do that; I continually made myself and my play calls relevant by asking the team what they were seeing from their individual perspectives; and we were all in a game that we loved to play – it resonated with us all, and win, lose or draw, we all played hard and did the best we could.  The experience was great and as far as I can tell, we all remember it as a remarkable time.

Dreambounded Leaders by definition engage in experiences that are expansive and so complete agreement on ideas is neither likely nor is it necessary or even desirable. As a Dreambounded Leader your goal is not a predictable and controlling environment. You are facilitating team exploration and discovery and that entails the interplay of ideas.

Making unpopular choices doesn’t mean that there is something right or wrong with your leadership. While those choices can mean the difference between winning and losing in business or in football, don’t pretend that you or your team get to control outcomes – you don’t!

Great leadership to me is about getting in the game, business or otherwise, with your team and doing the best you can in your role for a remarkable experience. Know this – your team is probably much more resiliant and capable than you give them credit for. It is your courage, loyalty and full engagement as a team member that they want more than, that you have all the answers.

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