– Guest post by Euan McCrindle
I’m a big fan of both the UK and US versions of The Office. It is the best television sitcom ever created. (Just so you know, I often state my opinions as categorical, absolute claims that cannot be proved or disproved). The main comedic engine in both shows is the incredible lack of self-awareness displayed by the incompetent boss of a regional branch of a paper company.
The boss generally considers himself cleverer, funnier, and better looking than he actually is. And generally his employees don’t have the courage to tell him the truth. And when they do muster up that courage, their words fall on deaf ears. And so chaos (and comedy) ensues as the boss continues to live in his bubble of ignorance. And after a while, the employees just find it easier to live with his ignorance.
So there are two problems: the employees don’t tell them the truth enough and when the truth is spoken the boss is not secure enough to listen. The reality is that this happens more than we like to admit in the real world as well (although it unfortunately doesn’t always result in belly-laughs from the observants).
This is the value of team leadership. A healthy team of leaders consists of people who are brave enough to speak truth into each other’s lives, and secure to listen when another leader speaks into theirs. A healthy team has the relational and professional trust that enables the “blind spots” of every member to be covered, and for the organization to move forward.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that there has to be one person who at the end of the day has to pioneer the way forward, who has to “lead the leaders”, who has ultimate responsibility for the organisation, company, church, or family. I’ve heard it said that anything with two heads is a monster. That’s very true. But around that leader there needs to be other leaders who have opinions, suggestions, even critiques that are heard and valued – even when those contributions reflect badly on the main leader. And it is the main leader’s job to create an environment where that is possible. And not just possible, but actually encouraged.
So at the end of the day, while I like watching the boss in the Office, I don’t want to be him. Neither do you I suspect.
Have you surrounded yourself with people who will help you become a better leader?
Are you willing to listen to them?