Back in 2004 I was at a prospective customer’s office in Buckhead down by the old Roxy Theater pitching our product with my lead developer. As an excited entrepreneur I was talked a mile a minute going through the minutia of every little feature in the application. The lead developer, proud of his creation, would answer some of their more detailed questions and I would interject with my spin on the response. This continued throughout the meeting and by the end I was proud of myself for answering all their questions. Little did I know me speaking over the developer and cutting him off was disrespectful and poor leadership.
Later in the week the developer approached me and told me what I had done and how frustrated he was with me. Wow, it was a big wake-up call for my lack of respect and leadership. From my point of view I was passionate about the product and wanted everyone to know how much I loved it. I was a poor leader. I didn’t respect his contributions and his passion for our product. I quickly apologized for what I had done and learned a lesson that I still keep with me to this day.
Leadership is not speaking over others. Leadership is being respectful and valuing the contribution from team members. When a team member speaks now, especially in front of a client, and I have the urge to say something that I think might sound a tad better, I bite my tongue and remember that everyone needs to contribute, not just me.
What else? What are your thoughts on leadership and letting everyone speak?