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Nov 9
Be Surprised
I was walking through an office his morning and noticed this quote on the wall.

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
                                                -  George S. Patton

I am student of leadership and a collector of quotes and yet I had not heard this quote before. This is wonderfully simple yet powerful insight. And World War II was a shining example of execution of this principle.

You become a leader because of your knowledge and expertise in a market or field and because you can influence others. People in your organization look to you for example and to teach them. Depending on the size of your organization, you probably are asked to solve problems everyday. “Go ask the boss” is a common refrain in many small and large businesses. Often this refrain is perpetuated by the boss, who positions himself as the answer man.

Don’t fall for this false sense of leadership. Truly great leaders develop leaders not followers. They push responsibility down to enable growth in those around them. Leaders are developed through trial and experience – among other things by learning to make tough decisions and allocating resources. Leaders draw out the best in others.  They are not afraid to make those around them better.

I have seen the power of allowing those in my organization to surprise me with their ingenuity. It was an awakening for me and a substantial confidence boost for them.

Are you willing to trust your employees to make tough decisions? Will you a value a solution if it is not your own? Go ahead, surprise yourself. The collective genius of your organization awaits your invitation to get started.

Oh and by the way, this quote was placed on the wall by an employee. Do you think they are trying to tell me, “the boss” something? I am listening and therefore becoming a better leader.

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