“If you are sitting around a room and you’re the first person to answer a question and speak up, your team will follow. But your team is usually smarter than the founder. And, if you let them speak first, it would be interesting what you hear if you take the time to listen.”
This quote is from Brian Scudamore, Founder & CEO of iconic brand 1-800-Got-Junk?. During a recent podcast episode with me, he talked about some of the important lessons he has learned on his journey From Founder to CEO. Brian has over 27 years of business building wisdom under his belt so when he shared this thought, I took note.
As an extroverted CEO, this certainly was a struggle of mine as a military officer, corporate VP, and most definitely as I have grown as a Founder & CEO myself. I hate that awkward silence so I, like many of you, fill it with my own thoughts, opinions, stories, and predictions.
As the CEO of a growing startup, there are many repercussions of this behavior over time:
1 – You may rob your team members from developing team problem solving skills.
2 – You may prematurely shut down divergent and creative thinking that often needs nurturing without your interference.
3 – You may perpetuate the myth that you know it all.
4 – You may miss out on an opportunity to learn more about your team members and their own strengths and limitations.
5 – You may even force out your high performing team members because they feel like they don’t have an opportunity to express themselves and shape the direction of the company.
I’m sure there are many more issues with this type of behavior.
The key is to start asking yourself if you do this more often than not.
If you do, try to avoid being the one that answers first, the next time someone asks a question in a meeting. Let you team wrestle with it a bit. Just because you are the Founder & CEO, doesn’t mean your team needs to hear from you first all the time.
You might be surprised by the positive impact.
Send me an email and let me know how it works out for you.