Friday, March 29, 2024

Three Voices Every Leader Needs

Fortune's Michal Lev-Ram and Alan Murray recently interviewed Otis Elevator CEO Judy Marks at Deloitte University. Marks offered some great insights to the assembled group of leaders from a variety of companies.  In the interview, Marks offered a great comment about the types of voices that a leader needs to hear now and again.  She specifically mentioned three voices:

You need a group of very trusted people who are going to tell you truth because things get filtered and they really do. So you need to call one of them a loyal irritant as long as it doesn’t really bother them. You need someone who’s going to kick you under the table every now and then and say, “Okay, enough, Jude.” Right? They got your point. Okay, it’s enough. Let go. You need someone who’s going to say, I think be really good if this got on your calendar because you can’t be everywhere.

We often hear about the need for that first voice - the devil's advocate, the trusted confidante and truth-teller.  However, the other two voices are interesting and important too.  First, you have to have someone willing to tell you when you've made your point, and perhaps you need to back off.  Sometimes leaders need to give people time and space to digest tough feedback and to determine how they want to adjust their actions moving forward.  In the moment, people can be defensive when the leader is pushing back, and just pushing some more won't cause them to listen more effectively.  They might just put up a bigger shield.  Second, you do need people who can help you determine where your intervention is needed, and when you need to make time to attend to an issue(s) that might not otherwise be on your radar.   Marks offers some good advice here.  Having these three voices and listening to them attentively can be very helpful for leaders at all levels. 

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