Are You Safe?

One of the most important things I encourage teammates to do is lead up, and probably the most common objection I get in return from those teammates is, “It’s not safe.”

By not safe, they mean their leading up:

  • Isn’t welcome or encouraged
  • Might anger or frustrate their leader
  • Could harm their relationship with their leader
  • Could even jeopardize their job

If you aren’t encouraging your people to lead up, then you are discouraging leading up. There is no middle ground. Leaders who foster an environment of leading up:

  • Encourage the team to take ownership of opportunities and challenges
  • Aren’t threatened by the talent and knowledge of their teammates
  • Are okay with not having all the answers or always being right
  • Develop loyal, hungry, inspired teammates

Go beyond telling employees to lead up by creating an environment where it’s safe to do so by:

  • Listening openly. You don’t have to agree, but you should hear them out.
  • Watch your body language. Look away from the computer screen or your smart phone and give them your full attention.
  • Don’t be defensive. The quickest way to shut-down a teammate attempting to lead up is to be defensive of your stance. You can disagree without aggressively protecting your stance.
  • Value others’ perspectives. One of the most fatal flaws of leaders is the belief that their opinions are always correct or their decisions are always right.
  • Thank them for their input. They took the risk to lead up, and how you react determines if they’ll attempt it again. Whether you agree or not, show your appreciation for their passion and feedback and encourage them to keep leading up.
  • Creating the environment you want with your own leader. Think of your leading up efforts with your own boss, and create the safe environment that you want with your leader within your own team.

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