I like working in isolation. Decisions seem clear. No one tells me I’m wrong. I get what I want. But ultimately, it’s not good. You can’t lead an organization from solitude. Unity is more important than my preferences.
One of my favorite activities is “unstructured thinking.” I love quiet times of writing, reading, thinking, praying, listening to music, sleeping, and working out. Yes, I even consider sleeping an activity—good ideas happen while you sleep. Unstructured time supports creative thinking. Most of my good ideas come from these times.
But that’s no way to lead. It doesn’t invite my team into the process. It shuts them out. And that shuts them down. Instead of welcoming them into a collaborative process, I’m sending them out to implement my latest great idea. Instead of leading a creative team, I’m directing a group of mindless minions.
That’s arrogant and self-centered. As much as I thrive on these times of solitary, unstructured thinking, I also need to spend time with people. I need to incorporate my team into the process. When I do, great things happen:
– We get to spend lots of time together as a team.
– Ideas are refined, tested and ultimately molded into something better or thrown out.
– The ideas and contributions of the entire team are welcomed, which is empowering and encouraging.
– I become an approachable and relatable leader, not some dictator on high.
– We learn to hold ideas loosely, knowing that so many things can change. As a result we’re flexible and agile, not rigid and stuck.
My own preferred style would be to go it alone, to come up with my ideas by myself and have my team fall in line. But I’ve learned that team unity is more important than my preferences. My own style is even changing as I learn to welcome the input of others and begin to thrive on it. Put your team’s unity above all else and you’ll rarely go wrong.
If you have questions about forging unity in your organization, post a comment below or connect with us on Twitter.
This is the 2nd blog post of the series on Unity in Leadership. If you missed the previous posts in this series, we recommend reading Part 1. We also encourage you read Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6!