You are never going to agree with all the decisions the boss makes, even if you’re the boss! There are a lot of important decisions that have to be made each and every day. Most of these decisions will be fairly clear cut, but many will require more careful consideration. Some of the choices will fall into gray areas that will be hard to call, much like a pitch in baseball that curves knee high over the corner of the plate. Wise leaders don’t try to make all these calls themselves. They often rely on the collective perspective and wisdom of a leadership team.
If you are the boss, surround yourself with great leaders who will give you wise and honest advice and feedback. A committed leadership team with various insights and perspectives joined around common values, beliefs and goals is of priceless value. Everyone has blind spots. Caring team members can collectively make better decisions and overcome each other’s blind spots.
Honest, wise advice will not only lead to success but can also help you avoid a disaster. King David had Nathan on his leadership team. Nathan had to “lead up” when he observed David making a series of bad decisions because of sin in his life. The encounter is recorded in 2 Samuel:
So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story…(after hearing the story)… David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die!” Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (from 2 Samuel 12:1-13 NLT)
Notice that Nathan was wise, caring, gentle and honest in his confrontation of David. Keep in mind he was confronting the king, the big boss, so Nathan also had to be bold and courageous. The story he told was very much like a case study that described a leader who had violated values that David held dear. By hearing the story, David gained a more objective perspective and could see the faults in the fictitious character that he couldn’t see in himself. No doubt David had been dealing with some blind spots. As we all do from time to time.
If you are the boss, encourage your team to “lead up” in order to make you a better leader. If you are on a leadership team, be humble, be wise, be courageous and appropriately confront wrong choices and actions. To do this successfully, your organization must be committed to cultivating trust through mutual accountability.
Organizations that value “leading up” have mature and secure leaders. They have developed a team built on trust. No matter where you are in leadership, let me encourage you to appreciate the value of “leading up”. Practice and promote this leadership principle with your team today.