I feel a little vindicated. An article in Forbes recently appeared that dealt with the overabundance of email and its impact on the development of quality professional relationships. The author offered a solution you may have already read on this site – the idea of having a ‘no email’ day – invoking a day where people have the choice of getting up and talking with each other or at the least getting on the phone. Please don’t burst my happy little bubble by delicately suggesting that this is hardly a new idea. I know – but it sure felt good to see it in a more legitimate, well read format. As my babelicious nephew would say – “True dat, Mimi”.
So I’m intrepidly going out on a limb, despite my fear of heights, and offering some other basic principles which I think could bring your employees greater professional satisfaction, enhance the quality of your leadership and perhaps, just perhaps improve your results. At the least it may give you something to think about. And as always, if it can provoke a smile, all the better.
1 – You can never learn anything while you’re talking.
2 – You can have a happily-ever-after work experience – especially if you look at is day by day.
3 – Presenting yourself as one who knows it all, doesn’t inspire confidence or make you a great boss. It makes you insufferable and impossible to work for (or live with for that matter).
4 – Try congratulating the person who owns up to making a mistake. I’m serious – I used to do it all the time. To me it was reflective of the individual’s willingness to take responsibility for the work under his/her jurisdiction and greatly increased the likelihood that such an error wouldn’t occur again. What I never did was let them take the fall in public – I took the hit. When all was said and done, I’d ask the employee what the ‘takeaway’ was and was never disappointed by the thoughtfulness of the response.
5 – If you’re going to take professional risks – and we all should – put your faith in those with whom you work. Let them know that you’re willing to back them and show your trust in them in deed.
6 – I used to have regular meetings with my team. Twice a year though we engaged in an exercise called “Building BHAGs (big, hairy, ambitious goals). The rules were few – the goals had to be a little scary, strategically important for the firm, and require that they be achieved collaboratively. Timelines were established with the knowledge that they could be somewhat fluid and each person tracked their contributions on a SharePoint site. Eventually they asked me not to come to the first meetings because they wanted to do it themselves, showing me their final recommendations. They were amazing. In other words – you don’t have to put your mark on every piece of paper, idea and/or project. If you’ve developed your people well, give them every chance to shine.
7 – “I’m sorry” are two of the most under-utilized words in the workplace.
8 – “Any new venture goes through the following stages: enthusiasm, complication, disillusionment, search for the guilty, punishment of the innocent and decoration of those who did nothing – Anon”. If you are in a position of responsibility, you can change this outcome with a modicum of effort and close attention to the rhythm of the work that is being done, the tenor of the conversations that are taking place and the quality of the activities that will drive the result. Oh yeah – that’s your job too.
9 – Always, always hire people who are smarter than you and then give them the substantive work that will make them thrive. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I promise you will not be hiring yourself out of a job – rather making room for you to take on more signficant projects of your own.
10 – Mike Ditka was right – failure isn’t fatal. The corollary of course is that success doesn’t last forever either. Learn to accept the ebb and flow of the realities of work.
Finally, think about your professional legacy. Do you want to be known for something other than showing up? I’m convinced most of you do. Identify the values and leadership style for which you will want to be associated even when you have moved on to new adventures. Try one thing differently every week – big or small – and see if there is more you can do to ensure you will be remembered in a way that will satisfy and please you. And Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone – may each day hold at least one four leaf clover for you.