The leader takes on a number of different roles on his or her path. Here are a few that come to mind: coach, visionary, mentor, and manager.
One description of a leader that I have come to embrace is that of a guide. This idea is functional with respect to an individual taking on the primary responsibility to help communicate and demonstrate the way forward, whether with direct reports or sales relationships. What if we could position ourselves in a more guide-like way when appropriate?
Recently, I took a call from a friend who has started a consulting business and is doing very well. He was eager to tell me about the success he had been having while pitching me on his services pretty aggressively. Every now and then, he would interrupt himself to assure me he was not attempting to sell anything. Had he asked me about my current projects, he would have captured my interest much sooner than he did. And he eventually did. He finally listened well enough and long enough to hear what’s on my mind as we fire into the year’s first quarter. Once I familiarized him with my current work narrative, he changed his approach and began to guide me toward a possible solution. As opposed to pitching his business, he sidled up next to me and became my ally. It felt totally different.
Luke had Yoda. Batman had Alfred. The Karate Kid had Mr. Miyagi. Everyone needs someone to go to. In most storylines, the hero needs a guide. Great parents do this. They listen. They guide their children.
I have noticed great people don’t have perfect parents. In fact, my unofficial, undocumented research has reported that households with the “perfect” mom or dad seemed to live at the apex of dysfunction and sustain it well into adulthood. Really great parents who produce healthy, well-adjusted children all the way into adulthood listen well and are committed to guiding their offspring through life. They are not experts; they’re just honest, vulnerable, and anything but perfect. They are the ones most likely to get phone calls and dinner invitations from their grown children. You’ve probably made the connection by now; leading is much like parenting, and the parent isn’t the hero. He or she is just the guide.
Listen. What our teams, customers, and friends need from us will become clear as we listen.
Lose the desire to be a hero if you aspire to be a great guide.
Lean on someone as your guide.
“All you need to do to receive guidance is to ask for it and then listen.”
Guide is written by Edgar Cabello