The World’s #1 Executive Coaching and Business Coaching Blog (2017-2021)
Can Leaders Learn from Even the Most Low-Level Employees?
The intelligent leader is a lifelong learner and teacher, eager to improve and help others succeed. A good leader can learn from the lowest-level employees. Employees can teach leaders to trust more, embrace debate, and be more transparent.
The key to continuous improvement is to remain hungry to learn. When you feel this hunger subside, as the leader of an organization, you are in danger of falling behind.
An intelligent leader is always looking for learning opportunities, regardless of where such opportunities may emerge. Employees bring a diverse selection of skills and perspectives to an organization. They represent a reservoir of knowledge and ideas leaders can use to improve themselves and their organization.
What can you learn from your employees?
The intelligent leader never stops learning.
Your employers can teach you to consider unique and creative solutions to problems, build a strong company culture, trust and empower others, and consider alternative perspectives.
Learning to Trust and Empower
Empowerment is the heart and soul of employee satisfaction and productivity. Trustworthy employees are independent, know their abilities, and are not afraid to take the initiative. However, there are always bad apples that can sabotage productivity.
Good employees teach their leaders to trust them. Leaders learn how to recognize those they can trust and how they can steer clear of those who won’t respond to empowerment.
Employees who do the best work they can are easy to trust. As I have stressed in my books and posts, leadership coaching can help leaders inspire their followers to do their best consistently.
Learning the Value of Vulnerability
In the traditional context of leadership, vulnerability tends to carry a negative connotation. Intelligent leaders understand its value, however. A vulnerable leader is a person strong enough to admit mistakes. Such a person is a transparent, relatable leader.
Employees value and expect transparency from their superiors. They respect leaders who can own up to mistakes and dislike ones that hide mistakes only to have them come to light later.
Intelligent employees demand their leader respect their intelligence by being transparent and vulnerable. Employees do not need an icon of leadership perfection. They need a down-to-earth individual with whom they can safely share goals and concerns.
Learning to Embrace Debate
Employees can teach leaders to consider input and alternative opinions. Ideally, intelligent employees are not afraid to challenge leaders’ perspectives, prompting them to reiterate their arguments or accept alternative solutions. Both exercises are constructive and beneficial for leaders. Knowing why you have the perspective you do never hurts. Learning to be open to feedback can reshape and improve leadership styles.
Learning to Empower Others
Authoritarian leaders see themselves as the only party in the room able to take chances. Employees can teach an intelligent leader that they should also experiment with and assume responsibilities.
Let go and let others take chances.
By empowering employees, leaders can improve the engagement and productivity of the workforce.
Seeing how employees handle risks can also give the leader valuable information about the strengths and weaknesses of the workforce.
Learning to Build a Community
The culture of an organization defines its capabilities and potential. Facilitating an open culture that values feedback, involvement, and genuine relationships is only easy in theory. In practice, leaders have a lot to learn from employees in this regard.
Employee-employer relationships seldom enjoy the neutrality of equal footing. There is always some degree of tension involved that distorts reciprocity. Employees do build meaningful and lasting relationships with their peers, however. Though they can’t partake directly in such relationships, leaders can watch and learn. They can use the lessons they glean to create a genuine sense of community and belonging in their organizations.
Relationships between co-workers can inspire team-building perks, improving the effectiveness of the effort.
Like good educators, intelligent leaders are lifelong learners. They always give and receive, improving the lives of others as they improve themselves as leaders. Comprising the managers and leaders of the future, the workforce is as good a source of teaching and learning as leadership coaching or executive coaching can be.