This week I had the opportunity to read this book for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed the 16 Rules that Bob laid out in this thoughtful and easy to read book. Someone reading the book may say that many of the rules are common sense but he does a great job of sharing his insights from experience.
I found the Key Point blocks at the end of each chapter especially helpful as they provide a concise list of specific highlights from the chapter. If you are looking for a quick synopsis of the content, just reviewing these blocks provides a great synopsis of the chapter for those in a hurry.
However the book itself is a quick and easy read and I would highly recommend it for a new manage or someone with experience looking for ideas to grow you own trust with your team.
Yes, as a leader we need to pay attention to our staff and listen, no matter how small the comment may be.
I learned that lesson the hard way this week. While working with a team member this week on a piece of software that neither of us were familiar with I learned this valuable lesson.
While navigating through the software performing the simple task of adding a user I stumbled into a configuration screen that I did not understand. As I went to save settings the team member I was working with made a comment stating that the language setting had the value of ‘Japanese’.
This is where I made my mistake.
I did not take the time stop when she made the statement. I did not really listen to what my team member said. And followed it up with not taking the time to think about it what she was communicating. I waved off the statement with a simple ‘that’s normal.’
Five minutes later she was back in my office and we had an issue. My simple mistake caused a core system in a key process to now display in Japanes instead of English. My organization is in the middle of rural America and Japanese is not a second language for any of us. Within the hour the issue was resolved but not without some interruption to business and some egg on my face.
After this event, I stopped and considered what had happened. As a leader I needed to remind myself to make sure I am taking these three steps in any interaction with my team.
Stop – When a team member expresses a concern. Especially in any work you are leading.
Listen – Truly listen to what the team member is saying. If the comment is related to work you are leading, pay extra care to how it relates to that work.
Think – Consider your team members concern and consider how it applies to the work.
By taking the three steps when working a team member you build a level of trust and show your team that you value thier input.
It may not change the work you are doing at the moment. But then again, it may save you some pain and some humor at your expense.
“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”
Events of the past several weeks have caused me to stop, think, and re-evaluate my personal understanding and definition of leadership.
A little history, in my career when I was given the opportunity for a management type role I did not really segregate the concepts of management and leadership. Part of this is because my own exposure in school and my early career did not provide any great mentors or teachers that focused on aspects of leadership separate from the responsibilities of management. This step in my career is where I decided to explore the concept of leadership as a separate requirement from the tactical management skills.
But where to start? Other than the definition of the word, my exploration has taken me to many different leadership ‘gurus’ in the market. (I say guru because I believe if you have managed to make your career truly about raising others leadership abilities and you are successful, then you have a following that subscribes to your ideas).
And there are many different ideas about what leadership is. Leadership is influence, leadership is providing a vision, leadership is great two-way communication, leadership with heart, leadership with love, and any other ‘Leadership is….’ concept you wish to name. All of these are great and the literature, stories and supporting tools are great. I’ve read them and tried to apply what I learned from each to my own style of leadership. But something happened in the past week that has caused me to sit down, and re-evaluate my own definition.
I want to state that I have always believed that we are all ‘leaders’ regardless of what our career or position is. Being a leader is not just about work. You are a leader if you are a father, mother, son, daughter, friend, or acquaintance of any human on the earth. Interactions in our lives are all opportunities to be a leader. Ok, maybe small talk between two people to just pass the time does not seem like a leadership opportunity, but the reality is any interaction provides an opportunity to learn from, influence, and impact others. Even the smallest conversation could potentially have a great influence on someone. (Remember leadership is influence?) The smallest hint of empathy or caring can have an impact on someone. (Remember putting love into leadership or leading with your heart?) The fact is we all have opportunities to be leaders no matter what we do.
And I think this is why I have decided to expand my own definition of leadership. So many definitions focus one aspect or another of leadership and trying to grasp each one. While as a leader we each try to learn from the different experiences we have, materials we read, or examples of other leaders around us, in realty we each develop our own style based on our own personality.
So in a sense leadership is about being authentic to who we are. And because of this I think a great definition of leadership would be the following.