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Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert, a public-interest attorney and journalist, is the Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the theory and practice of women's leadership.

Getting team buy-in

Q: Bob Woodward's new book on the Obama White House portrays a president so frustrated with top military advisers for their refusal to provide what he considered a reasonable exit strategy from Afghanistan that he devised one himself. How should leaders reconcile the laudable instinct to rely on the advice of experts with the sometimes urgent need to force them to think outside the box?

One of the hardest jobs of a good leader is to find ways to get her employees to think differently about the things they work on day in and day out. It's easy to think out of the box about new areas, but we are all creatures of habit, so it does not surprise me that we hang tough with views that are born from experience.

Leaders who are looking for more creativity need to put their people in different surroundings and reframe the questions in ways that probe the underlying philosophy and criteria for an effective solution first, rather than specifics. Devising your own solution might work if you are president of the United States, but buy-in from the team is going to make the solution work more effectively.

By Kathryn Kolbert

 |  September 29, 2010; 12:39 PM ET
Category:  A leader's team , Accomplishing Goals , Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: When the going gets tough, the tough get... | Next: Deciding in a state of ignorance

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