As an existential philosopher in the lineage of Karl Jaspers, I concur with the notion that being a leader is about listening and bringing folks to compromise. When we act like there is one problem with one solution, we very much are looking at the world as though technical or surgical precision is the answer to every issue. Not so.
“…The dominant view of leadership is that the leader has the vision and the rest is a sales problem,” he says. “I think that notion of leadership is bankrupt. ” That approach only works for technical problems, he says, where there’s a right answer and an expert knows what it is.
Heifetz trained as a psychiatrist, and he describes his view of effective leadership with an analogy from medicine. “When a patient comes to a surgeon, the surgeon’s default setting is to say, ‘You’ve got a problem? I’ll take the problem off your shoulders and I’ll deliver back to you a solution.’ In psychiatry, when a person comes to you with a problem, it’s not your job actually to solve their problem. It’s your job to develop their capacity to solve their own problem…”