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Are You Consumed With Your Own Brilliance, or Do You Wish to Unleash the Brilliance of Others?

June 2, 2010
Updated March 21, 2016

english-expressions-hotshotHow many times have you been in a boss’s office, or in the office of someone who was interviewing you for a job, and you suddenly realized that the conversation was essentially a one-way monologue directed at you? Don’t be shy, it’s okay to raise your hand.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been caught in that situation. What I’ve never really understood is why would a hiring manager rattle on unabated about himself or herself.

I would have thought that the aim of a job interview is to glean as much information as possible from the candidate, to develop a tentative grasp on what makes this person tick, what their experiences have been, and how they could contribute positively to the organization.

What I eventually realized some time ago is that some people in managerial positions have a burning need to be heard by their subordinates, or potential subordinates in the case of hiring. Whether it’s insecurity or a propensity to talk incessantly, these individuals have a strong need to impose themselves on others when given the opportunity.

The same applies to those in managerial positions who dominate their staff at meetings or one-on-one encounters. I’ve been talked at until my ears were begging for immediate relief. What gives here? And when I say “managerial positions” this also applies to those up the executive foodchain.

Managerial leadership is a demanding role and not one for the faint of heart or for those who are unable to park their egos at the door when they enter the workplace. And this includes listening more than speaking. What matters more in leadership is asking the right questions, then sitting back and remaining silent while your teammates express their knowledge on the subject.

No one knows everything, though I’ve wondered that at times while listening in numbed silence as a former boss waxed eloquent in self-perceived brilliance, providing a non-illuminating discourse on the wonders of the universe. I digress; you get the message.

My previous posts on self-empowerment and Post-Heroic Leadership are intertwined tightly with today’s post on listening and nurturing the brilliance of your staff and co-workers. Read the three posts as an entity, then ask yourself these questions:

1) Do I REALLY value what my co-workers and direct reports have to say and contribute?

2) How can I improve my listening skills? What is my first step?

3) Do I TRULY believe that my co-workers (or staff) possess more brilliance than I?

4) How intact is my personal ego? Can I easily and readily laugh at myself?

5) What do I have to let go of to become a leader who serves his or her followers?

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?
-(Benjamin Disraeli)

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