At one point, the exec team was stalled because a key pain point organically emerged that sidetracked them. The CEO became frustrated and stormed out of the room. What I noticed was the group’s reaction: They acknowledged that he was upset (which was rather obvious) and then they simply began problem-solving the issue. It was a really challenging and complex issue. When the CEO came back into the room, he sat down next to me–but he didn’t say a word. He was still frustrated. The problem needed a solution–literally. So I leaned over and said to him, “You have an incredible team of A-Players, and A-Players don’t need to lean on you for every little thing. But now, at this moment, they need you to be a leader. So what do you need from them?” In a quiet whisper, he said he needed them to figure out how the [heck] they were going to solve this supply chain/delivery problem! “Then why don’t you respectfully tell them that? Think about giving them a timeframe (30 minutes? One hour?) to create two scenarios that might solve this problem.”
By doing this, he empowered his executive team (who lead different aspects of this business around the globe) to create their own workable solution as a core team. The CEO is a real intellectual type who could have easily just “told” his team what to do. But by being more transformational vs. transactional as a leader, he continued to engage his team in some founding principles that will serve this company for many years, such as:
- Joint Problem-Solving
- Strategic Clarity & Focus
- Consensus (vs. Compliance)
- Mutual Understanding
- Forward Movement
As a leader, resist the temptation to spoon-feed your teams. Instead, give them a little breathing room to create solutions. Not only will you get viable solutions; you also get a stronger team who has learned that collective intelligence wins ever single time.