Do You Work with a Credit Hog? MG THINKERS 50...
asked my coaching client J.P. Garnier, former CEO of the large pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmith Kline, “What did you learn from me when I was your executive coach that helped you the most as a leader?” He said, “You taught me one lesson that helped me to become a better leader and live a happier life. You taught me that before I speak I should stop, breathe, and ask myself, ‘Is it worth it?’ He said that when he got into the habit of taking a breath before he talked, he realized that at least half of what he was going to say wasn’t worth saying. Even though he believed he could add value, he realized he had more to gain by not saying anything.
The flipside to this concept is that people often take leaders’ suggestions as orders. I asked J.P, “What did you learn about leadership as the CEO?” He said, “I learned a very hard lesson. My suggestions become orders. If they’re smart, they’re orders. If they’re stupid, they’re orders. If I want them to be orders, they are orders. And, if I don’t want them to be orders, they are orders anyway.”
For many years, I taught this to the students at the new admirals’ school of the US Navy. The first thing I taught them was that as soon as they get their stars, their suggestions become orders. Admirals don’t make suggestions. If an admiral makes a suggestion, what is the response? “Sir, yes sir.” Their suggestions become orders.
What does this mean for leaders? It means closely monitoring how you hand out encouragement and suggestions. If you find yourself saying, “Great idea,” and following it with “But,” or “However,” try cutting your response off at “idea.” Even better, before you speak, take a breath and ask yourself if what you’re about to say is worth it. You may realize that you have more to gain by not winning (adding value)!