Importantly, the great leader does not see as a threat someone who is better than they are; in fact it energises them to learn and to expand while accepting that specific expertise has its value and needs an expert to bring it to the table.
Naturally, the “expert” is not always the easiest person to manage. Prima donnas never are, but their contribution, given the freedom to exercise it, can be exceptional.
Crucially the limiting word is “freedom”. How foolish is it to recruit an expert or specialist in some discipline and then direct them or tell them what to do or how to produce answers.
Motivational speaker, Steve Head puts forward a simple equation which goes like this:
P = p - i
where P = performance, p = potential and i = interference.
In other words, potential can best be exploited and will produce great performance where interference is at a minimum.
The implications are significant and often difficult for many leaders to take on board. Do we have to give people their head and just hope for success?
Of course, it’s not like that in real life. There are three basic parameters which need to be considered:
· The objectives of the task – what outcome do we want?
· When will the task be completed?
· What effect will that task have on the business?
If the leader has the inner strength to give the expert free rein to deliver a result, then the leader is entitled to expect the quid pro quo of accountability.
Again, there are three criteria which will enable the leader to find out what is happening but crucially without it being overt (or even covet) interference:
· Monitor what is going on preferably by the expert producing simple progress reports with both good and bad news if necessary
· Measure the results and report
· Evaluate the results together
If all that can be achieved in a “no-blame” environment when things don’t go as well as they might, then the leader can reasonably expect great results from people who value the freedom they have been given to deliver those results.