One of those leadership road hazards that most of us hit head-on at times is thinking that we have it all figured out and know all the answers. We spring to conclusions, discount ideas, and generally don’t listen either intentionally or not. Now, I don’t know about you but I can’t remember the last time I actually had an original thought. Don’t take that last remark as bad as I feel after typing it. What I mean is, think about it! Where do you get the ideas you implement every day? Here are the original points of information as I can recall them.

Parents – think about it, all those years of engrained nurturing behavior had to have had some impact on you, right?

Kindergarten – let’s face it, everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten anyway!

School – you may have tried not to pay attention for all those years, but trust me, some of it got through.

Friends – those are the people you learned things from that you didn’t have to be embarrassed you didn’t know.

Books – you know this is the original "not your idea anyway but add it to your databanks for later use” method.

Mentors – those people that you admire most and everything out of their mouth has instant credibility.

Google – it may not have told you what you needed to know but it sent you in the right direction…..

Life experience – it has happened to you already and you have stored the decisions you made for adjustment the next time it happens.

My point…..

As the leader in your organization or group you have a responsibility to understand that you are just the guide to your people’s brilliance. When you are faced with decisions ask your people about the best solution. Your team had different parents, went to different schools, have different mentors, and have “Googled” different things, so I can assure you, they have different ideas. Your advantage is you get to listen to all the brilliant ideas and then chose the best one!

That is your only true privilege as the leader.

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Tags: Leadership, Restaurant, Swingley, Training


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Comment by Pat Jack on June 26, 2009 at 8:29pm
My experiences in New Orleans over the last 7 years have yielded absolutely NO persons in management or ownership positions who care one tiny bit what one of their experienced workers has to say about anything.

When ever I have offered assistance to management or ownership in New Orleans restaurants it has ALWAYS been met with a high degree of intimidation and has marked me as a trouble maker and a know it all.

Please disclaim this statement as all of my statements here on fohboh must be disclaimed that I am speaking from my experience in New Orleans, Louisiana.

It seems that once people get to a level of ownership or management they simply don't want to hear what others have to say ... ESPECIALLY if it has merit.

Comment by Ty Sullivan on June 26, 2009 at 5:19am
Great stuff Andy. I have to say I do rely on the input of others a great deal. I have always believed in the "tinkers thinkers" mentality that every mind in the collective will make the final outcome that more coherent and logical. Now, can we rely on, like Google, to provide us with even more answers? We shall see. I can't help it when I hear that it's a Bing Crosby Tribute site, LOL (showed my age on that last comment!)
Comment by Andy Swingley on June 20, 2009 at 9:27am
Well said, Bartolomeu!
Comment by Andy Swingley on June 19, 2009 at 4:33am
Thanks Debra, Rod, and John! I appreciate your comments.
Comment by John Scroggins on June 18, 2009 at 2:20pm
Great post, Andy - makes me think about those sources I rely upon - and when those sources are mentors, co-workers, friends, etc., making a better effort to tell them what a source of inspiration they are. I had a great education and learned many things, but what I remember most about school, at every level, are the teachers - the personalities, how they motivated students, where they found inspiration. Thanks for reminding me!

Comment by Rod Guinn on June 18, 2009 at 9:18am
It's often said "you are what you eat." A broader, more accurate phrasing might be "you're the sum of all you've consumed" (or heard, or seen, or read, ...). Once we realize that each of us, even standing alone, is effectively a committee, it makes sense to take and guide the contributions of all team members to achieve something greater than any lone individual could accomplish.
Thanks for reminding us!




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