10 March 2010

The 8 things people expect from their leaders

Sent to me by my "boss", from HBR:


1. Tell me my role, tell me what to do, and give me the rules. Micromanaging? No, it's called clear direction. Give them parameters so they can work within broad outlines.

2. Discipline my coworker who is out of line. Time and time again, I hear, "I wish my boss would tell Nancy that this is just unacceptable." Hold people accountable in a way that is fair but makes everyone cognizant of what is and isn't acceptable.

3. Get me excited. About the company, about the product, about the job, about a project. Just get them excited.

4. Don't forget to praise me. Motivate employees by leveraging their strengths, not harping on their weaknesses.

5. Don't scare me. They really don't need to know about everything that worries you. They respect that you trust them, but you are the boss. And don't lose your temper at meetings because they didn't meet your expectations. It's often not productive. Fairness and consistency are important mainstays.

6. Impress me. Strong leaders impress their staffs in a variety of ways. Yes, some are great examples of management, but others are bold and courageous, and still others are creative and smart. Strong leaders bring strength to an organization by providing a characteristic that others don't have and the company sorely needs.

7. Give me some autonomy. Give them something interesting to work on. Trust them with opportunity.

8. Set me up to win. Nobody wants to fail. Indecisive leaders who keep people in the wrong roles, set unrealistic goals, keep unproductive team members, or change direction unfairly just frustrate everybody and make people feel defeated.

That's a quite good and to the point list. I like especially number 8. I have this "mantra" to myself, something like "if we are going to make mistakes, let's make them quickly, so we can also try something different quickly". I value so much people that can be decisive as leaders. It takes balls to do so, because, as a leader, "everything is your fault (dot)" and sometimes people believe it's more comfortable to not decide.

I prefer to take a decision, even not knowing if it's the right one (not even mentioning the "perfect decision", which is probably an unrealistic concept anyway). If we new all the answer and had all the information we needed to make a decision, even a monkey could run a business. Leadership is about uncertainty and belief, management is about certainty and facts.

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