Keep calm and collaborate: Engage with others to solve problems


As an executive coach, I see how many leaders tell their employees what the goals are and expect them to meet them in the way they deem as “right” in the timing they want. While they often tell me they don’t micro-manage the details on how their employees get to the results, they will admit they jump in when it seems as though the timing is not unfolding as they hoped, or their employees are not approaching the situations the way they would’ve done it.

Leasership-shutterstock_161785739-wehrleyWhile they do not see this as micro-managing, they are operating from an unconscious fear, masked in the big ego, who jumps in to take control and “save the day.” This produces a fear-based little ego mindset in their employees that makes them eventually believe they are not good enough to contribute.

It is very difficult to create success from these mindsets, so let’s explore them in contrast to the leader who leads with ego strength and intuitive knowing:

Leadership mindsets:

  1. Leading with our big ego: Driving results for success
    When we operate from our big ego, we believe: “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me!” As a result of our belief that we are responsible for the outcome and have all the right answers, we lead the drive to results in the way we deem as best. When things don’t unfold as we believe they ought to, in the timing we deem as “right,” we begin to push hard to control the outcome. We begin to tell people what to do, and our EGO begins to Edge the Group Out, as we take more control. Our big EGO does not see any other way to deal with our unconscious anxiety regarding achieving results. We feel righteous in taking control, as we judge others as “inadequate.” What we do not realize is we did not adequately collaborate over the goals, problem statement at hand, strategies, and timeline before execution of the plan. While we judge them as having a competency issue, it is really our lack of a collaborative approach that is the problem.
  1. Leading with our little ego: Suppressing our impact
    As the old saying goes: “Nobody can make us feel a certain way without our permission!” Those who operate from their little EGO tend to Edge their Greatest self Out by giving their power and voice away to those with stronger opinions or more authority. Instead of taking a passive stance when approached by authority with a strong direction, ask, “How might we engage all stakeholders in solving this problem before we take action, so WE can explore all possibilities before we execute?” Be sure to ask this collaborative problem-solving question and contribute ideas as well, no matter what your position.
  1. Leading with ego strength and intuitive knowing: Engaging others for solutions and buy-in
    When we lead with our ego strength and intuitive knowing, we are able to consciously feel our anxiety and slow down to engage others. We understand that our anxiety is simply telling us something needs to change. When we express our concern in a problem statement to the stakeholders in the form of a collaborative question like, “How might we solve x?” we engage others in a mindful awareness of the concern and an ownership in discovering solutions to address the problem at hand. When others are engaged early on in the awareness, and contribute in the solution process, not only do you yield the best ideas, but you also get the buy-in needed to carry the ideas through to reach success. It takes ego strength to face the truth and believe the collective intelligence of the group has the intuitive knowing to find the best solution.

One may think, “Why don’t most people operate from their ego strength and intuitive knowing?” The answer is simple: Anxiety makes us believe we do not have time to slow down and breathe, yet solve the problem with others. While it may not be a true emergency at hand, our lizard brain believes a big roaring lion just entered our cave and we better hurry up and kill it. Leaders with strong executive skills have learned the tricks to surpass this impulsive urge to purge into the situation like a crazy hunter with a machine gun ready to fire off at the enemy at hand.

 Challenge: To improve your ego strength and intuitive knowing, remember: Practice makes perfect! Next time your anxiety makes you believe a roaring lion just entered your cave, just breathe, step back, and see that it is likely just a mouse with a microphone. Now, realize you have time to create a problem-solving statement and engage others in the solution. Trusting the collective consciousness of all will yield the right solution to lead you to success!

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Susan K. Wehrley is an executive coach and business consultant that aligns executives and businesses to their vision, values and goals. She is also a regular contributor to Forbes. You can email Susan at, (262) 696-6856 or visit her website for more details.

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