I sheepishly walked into the large conference room as I attempted to hide behind the Vice President for whom I was interning. She motioned me to sit down next to her at the long oval table and the meeting promptly began.
The one I presumed to be the chair immediately launched into the agenda with gusto. Even as a young college student, it was clear to me that the chair had his own agenda and was using pomp and volume to push it forward.
It seemed as though many others around the table felt as intimidated as I did, as they nodded and scribbled vigorous notes in their notebooks while the chair loudly pontificated.
About 15 minutes into the meeting the VP raised her hand. It took a bit for the others in the room to notice it, as they were heads down in their notebooks, and even longer for the chair to stop his monologue before motioning to the VP.
The tone in her voice was much lower but definitely audible as she raised a few points to consider on the current topic.
The agreeing looks on the faces of many around the table turned to uncertainty as the chair boomed his opposing thoughts on the matter.
This occurred two or three times over the duration of the hour-long meeting, always with little to no group conversation and the chair having the last vociferous word.
Even though I was an intern, it was clear to me that the points brought up by the VP had the end goal of looking into what was right and best in the situation, while it wasn’t clear that was of interest to the chair.
It is true leaders must exist in today’s world. The question is what type of leader do you choose to be?
An authentic leader, instead of striving for the supremacy, will seek an understanding heart, to discern between right and wrong.
This means inviting dissenting thoughts and having a robust conversation, even on topics for which you already may have made up your mind.
Here are three difficult questions to ask to grow an understanding heart:
ENCOURAGE INPUT: Am I making a unilateral decision without talking to the individual(s) or team(s) affected by the decision?
SEEK OPPOSING THOUGHT: Have I asked for the thoughts of at least one person who thinks differently than me?
ZOOM IN: What is my intent in making this decision?
We will never be perfect leaders, and seeking to discern between right and wrong allows us to be our best.