I was recently reading a document from a leader here where he wrote (paraphrased):

When I call to generate opportunities myself, I’ve always tried to call the scheduling coordinator or director of nursing first because they have the need. I know they’re not the decision maker, so it’s not a qualified opportunity I can pass on to the Account Execs. But speaking to them first lets me then call the decision maker and say “I was just speaking with [Jane Smith] in Nursing…” which yields a much higher conversion rate. This works really well, but I haven’t been forcing my team to do it this way…

I said the following to this leader and wanted to share it here broadly for the benefit of current and future leaders company wide. I want to shout this from the rooftops: don’t be afraid of forcing your team to do it your way, because it’s a starting point not a straitjacket.

Your best people will enthusiastically try it your way, and quickly find a better way. In “imposing” your way you’ll have to naturally explain why you do it that way (in this case, why the leader chose to call the not decision maker first even though this is more work). Often your team will learn just as much from your explanation of your reasoning as they will from trying it your way in the real world.

Remember you’re in the management chair for a reason, because we believe in your leadership potential and you’re excellent at the craft[1]. The people on your team choose to work for you, partially because they want to learn the craft from you.

Your job as a leader is to Exude Clarity, not just about the goal (the “what”), but also a specific way to get to the goal (the “how). Some leaders are afraid to get specific on the how, because they think it reduces the creativity of their team… that their team should come up with the “how” from a blank slate. That’s not true: showing your “how” allows your team to take it apart & improve on it. It inspires new ideas. It lets your team teach you improvements to your “how” & update your mental model.

[1] to be fair this isn’t true in many companies, but it is true here. See Our leaders are also excellent individual contributors