The Vice President of Wisdom

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I've spent a lot of time facilitating senior executive teams as they develop strategic plans and solve big organizational problems. A big hole in the leadership skills of many leaders is a willingness to take risks in these sessions.

Specifically, too many leaders are too quiet. They are afraid to take the risk of stating their opinions.

This is a big mistake. A willingness to share your point of view is vital to effective leadership. Even if you are naturally shy you must take the risk of speaking. You may just have the idea that unlocks the answer.

Let me tell you about Esther, the Vice President of Wisdom.

I was leading a planning session at a large international foods company.  I had met with all of the team members individually before the session. When I talked with Esther she told me she was very shy in groups and probably would not say much.

I told her I understood, but that at some point in the process her perspective would be vital. I encouraged her to try to share when that time came.

For the first two days of the sessions Esther said almost nothing. On the third day the team was at a tough point and was having a hard time deciding what to do.

Esther tentatively raised her hand, took a deep breath and said; “Rob told me there would be a time I needed to talk. This is what I think is causing our problem and here is what I think we should do…”

Esther went on to share an insight that completely unlocked the answer to the team’s problem. Her teammates nicknamed her The VP of Wisdom. To this day, more than 10 years later, every team member goes to Esther for advice when they are dealing with a tough issue.

That day Esther provided a breakthrough for her team. She also provided a breakthrough for herself as a leader.

Be brave to take a risk like Esther. Be your organization’s “VP of Wisdom”.

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