Business leader

Suit Up, Show Up, and Shut Up

Suit Up, Show Up, and Shut Up – Three wise words shared with Mothers of the Groom for wedding planning and etiquette. A friend whose son was getting married recently shared this with me. I had heard it before but had forgotten the teaching. It sounds cruel but it has merit in the situation. After all, weddings are for the Brides, right?

As this triplet rang in my ears, I realized there is a leadership teaching in here too. In a world of complex managerial challenge and voids of bonafide leadership, the ways executives and business owners conduct themselves takes center stage. These three gems just might hold some valuable truth.

Business leader

Suit Up

When you are in a position of authority, you have to suit up every day. I don’t mean dress slacks and ties or dresses, I mean putting on your full wardrobe of talent and experience. You just can’t leave anything behind. Forgetting about the knowledge and experience you bring to the job can be fatal. You have to be prepared.

You must be willing to get ready for each and every day. You owe it to your team to come to the office or the plant as fully decked out in mental clarity, emotional energy, and technical skill as you can.

It can be tiring. It can be boring. You might even be tempted to “call it in” every so often. But if you do, you will have personally taken some air out of the room. Your people will know it.

Show Up

Your team counts on you whether you believe that or not. Consciously or subconsciously they want their leader present. Presence has to be physical and emotional. You have to be connected.

As the moments of the day tick away, you need to be present in each of those moments. The best leadership doesn’t happen at big meetings or forums, it happens in the next minute when someone who works with you needs a question answered or asks for guidance. Great leadership is in those moments.

Shut Up

You don’t need to know it all. Rely on the people who surround you. Ask questions but don’t direct everything. You can guide but don’t dictate. Encourage rather than condemn.

There’s an old saying “it takes ten atta-boys to make up one OH s*&$t!” Your people will respond better to a level-headed discussion rather than harsh critique.

Work to be more of a listener rather than a talker. Use an empathetic ear when your team is talking to you. Either in group settings or one-on-one, be the one who listens more than talks. Measure your words and speak wisely when you do speak.

Find ways to turn issues into learning experiences. Yes, you may have to occasionally take a hard line, but that should be the exception rather than the rule.

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Three Simple Truths

Suit up, show up and shut up – yes it sounds harsh, especially to Moms who are marrying off their precious sons. At work though, these can be some of the most powerful truths to live by. When you violate any or all of these principles you will find your team or your business operating a level much below your expectation. The problem won’t be your team. It might be YOU.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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