How to create thought leaders by holding back your thoughts.

To create leaders, Renee Fraser, CEO of Fraser Communications, has created a Rule of Three to help mentor and grow her employees.

“When I am the leader of a group,” said Fraser, “I deliberately don’t step in at least three times in a meeting. After years of working in the industry, I find myself always having something to contribute to the conversation. However, always sharing what I know can be detrimental to growing internal leaders in a business.”

Countless others agree.

“Great leaders know when to get out of the way and let their team members take over,” said Iman Jalali, Chief of Staff at ContextMedia. “A great leader knows he or she doesn’t have all the answers but that their teams do. They trust and listen to their teams and empower them to do great work. They clear the path for success.”

With Fraser’s Rule of Three, less is more when both creating leaders and being a leader. Of course, meetings are discussed ahead of time. Ideas flow, solutions are bandied about, insights are gained. Hopefully, these are absorbed, and it’s vital to Fraser that her employees adopt and “own” insights and solutions. Here’s where the seeds of compelling communication take root.

“When you plant a seed in the ground,” said Jake Ducey, author of Into the Wind, “after you water it and such, you let it go. It grows if it supposed to. You can only do so much. Let the natural process of things unfold when your work is done. Trust is what makes life magical.”

Whether it’s magic or just the course of nature, overdoing it as a leader is an important mistake to avoid.

“In meetings, either internally or with a client,” said Fraser. “I might have the insight or the right word, but I have to hold back and watch how others might get there on their own. And when they do get there on their own, I might add what I know to solidify their position. This is an important moment for them. It empowers them.”

Fraser makes a good point as bosses that micromanage or interrupt can debilitate the most creative employee and is also one of the top three reasons employees resign.

“The costs associated with long-term micromanagement can be exorbitant,” said Dr. Collins from the College of Business and Administration at Southern Illinois University. “Symptoms such as low employee morale, high staff turnover, reduction of productivity and patient dissatisfaction can be associated with micromanagement. Ultimately, micromanagement leads to decreased growth potential in a department.”

So, how does one mitigate the risks of micromanaging employees? First, by hiring capable employees and second, by understanding the reason that, like a seed, managers need to step back and let the natural process of growth take over, while nurturing the atmosphere to let that seed grow.

“A truly effective manager sets up those around him to succeed,” said James Manktelow, CEO of MindTools.com. “Micromanagers, on the other hand, prevent employees from making – and taking responsibility for – their own decisions. But, it’s precisely the process of making decisions, and living with the consequences, that causes people to grow and improve.”

Whether you are the manager or the managed, the planter or the seed, the speaker or the audience, to grow people need to make their own decisions, come to their own conclusions and share their own voices. When this happens, new ideas and fresh thinking, bolstered by confidence, emerge, which any team or organization wants and needs.

When you know when not to talk, you can create thought leaders.

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