Thursday, April 12, 2012

Follow my Leader?

Can a leader become a follower? In recent years pharmaceutical companies' R&D divisions have cut swathes of staff and many scientists who formerly held management positions with others reporting to them have been reduced to the role of individual contributor. When you've been used to leading, managing and delegating it can come as quite a shock to find yourself in a follower role.

I've been wrestling with this issue myself, but found some good advice in Jennifer Crittenden's book "Discreet Guide for Corporate Women". Crittenden advises aspiring leaders to develop good listening skills, and it struck me that as a manager, it is easy to fall into the habit of talking more than one listens. Added to that, our multitasking online culture engenders the bad habit of emailing during phone calls and presentations, and we find ourselves less and less able to focus solely on the speaker.

I'm resolved to consciously practice my listening skills, to refrain from interrupting and give speakers 100% of my attention. When I attain my next leadership role I'm hoping these skills will make me a better leader.