Sunday, March 28, 2021

A well-connected node

March 28, 2021Posted in

The role of the leader or the manager is so complicated that it's sometimes scary. There's no one place you can learn leadership from, and the responsibility could easily become overwhelming without structure.  

Leader = Node != Expert

I used to think the leader always needs to know more than the people they manage. I thought by knowing it all you become a great leader. But in a recent situation, I was surprised to witness a manager acting as a node-- A humble node connecting (demand) someone in need to (supply) someone who had what was needed. 

I witnessed the manager acting as a node connecting "someone who needed something" to "someone who had what was needed". 

I witnessed the leader gracefully connect two teammates, where one of them wanted to facilitate workshops better and the other had successfully facilitated many workshops. 

The two teammates actually got in touch and the expert facilitator did provide valuable insights in facilitating with a bunch of people and explained what they did to keep people engaged and active in the workshop. 

To my surprise, I actually found this flow of knowledge quite hard to believe because I had never seen this work until now. 

The manager's efforts to connect these two parties worked like a charm and it could've gone wrong in so many places, but it didn't! And that's because the leader trusted in their teammates and vice versa. The colleagues did not let ego get in between them either, they trusted the other person genuinely. 

Enabling has many forms

I'm no leader, but from the things I see I've been pretty curious about what makes a good leader. And a good leader for me would be someone who really helps/supports/enables the ones they lead. 

I've come across people who have had the same need to facilitate workshops, but haven't had great results because they didn't know what else to do. Here, the leader themselves did not have a direction to enable this person. 

In order to enable someone, you must talk to them and be genuinely listening to what they're saying and find out what makes them tick and stay focussed on a task.

Now we know this person want to improve, what would be your options?
- Requesting to take a course on public speaking?
- Making them facilitate/speak more?
- Suggesting a book?

These options do not guarantee an RoI and definitely do not make sure that the person really learns and applies the knowledge. But when you connect your teammates and enable this seamless sharing of knowledge, there is an improved level of respect and openness you've unlocked. 

And if there's no expert on your team you can direct them to, then the next best thing would be to
- discuss their options with them
- get them started on the best option
- and importantly - track their progress judiciously during your 1:1s 

Progress can be made by genuinely caring and taking the necessary steps, while constantly tracking one's development.