A Critical Doer understands following
I was meeting with some junior execs on a project, and I have to admit to being completely blown away by the creativity of their thinking and the passion of their presentation. When they finished, I began stepping through some potential areas of concern and items that warranted further thinking…and something amazing happened.
The team lead looked at me and said “typical industrial age response to a digital age solution.” As I sat there stunned for a moment, the team lead further added this absolute gem of wisdom…”I’m not like you. This wouldn’t work if you were the target of the project, but you’re not…it’s for our age and younger.”
I’m not like you. I couldn’t shake the thought out of my head. I’m generally regarded as a a fairly open-minded thinker, but it really set me to wondering how many good ideas I may have impeded because I unintentionally steered thinking through my eyes rather than the target group for which it was intended…or even worse, trying to lead when I should have been following.
If I could go back to the beginning of this scenario, I’d apply my own advice and ask more intelligent questions to better understand the problem before troubleshooting the solution. In asking those questions, it would have been obvious that the idea targeted a different generation therefore I should look at the solution through a different lens.
Here’s a level deeper in the analysis that gets to the Critical Doer trait of understanding following. I’m the leader…I’m in charge…but do I have to be the lead sled dog in every project? Quite simply…no. After asking the right questions that provide helpful guidance, the correct leadership response is to clear out of the way and let the junior execs take the lead on their idea. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around the idea of leading…but letting others lead. But when you think of it, you can’t grow lead sled dogs if they don’t get a chance to lead.
After having a good laugh at my own expense, I believe I made a good decision to let the junior execs run with their idea trusting that they had the pulse of the target audience. The idea was backed with logic and there is no reason to mistrust their judgment. I’m confident we will profit from their creativity.
Your challenge is to think through all the situations at home and work where you’re offering guidance on solutions. Remembering the Critical Doer trait of capitalizing on opportunities to be better, look for opportunities where you can lead most effectively by showing your people that you understand following. Know your leadership role of how to provide guidance that helps through asking the right questions, and then let the next generation of lead sled dogs charge out and lead. It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!
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