A key role for leaders is to authorise discussion in organisations. Leaders need to foster frank and authentic discussions by all employees. The best way to signal willingness to discuss the real issues is to start that conversation yourself and to show you will take action on the outcomes.
How do you invite questions?
I was recently asked what was my favourite aspect of a YamJam was. A YamJam is a Q&A session in Yammer usually by a leader or other authority figure. My answer was that my favourite element is that a YamJam authorises employees to question leaders and role models. This starts to create the kind of leadership that employees want: open, authentic and responsive.
Working out loud by leaders has the same positive impact. By openly sharing the work in progress with all its doubts, flaws and uncertainties, leaders invite others to engage them on that work. They make transparent their personal work processes for the benefit of others. The sharing authorises others to engage and respond to the leader’s work. This is a powerful tool to cut through hierarchy and change leadership interactions in an organisation. Change the interactions and you change the culture.
Authorise the debate
The greatest barriers to human potential are the things we think we cannot do. Too often we look for others to authorise us to act. For many people and organisations, questioning leaders falls into the category of some we can’t do without permission. The role of leaders in realising potential is to release this constraint and authorise the kinds of generative conversations that enable organisations to be responsive.