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Monday, April 23, 2012

Is Your Way the Only Highway?

The following quote from The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander has so much meaning for today’s leader: 

“How often in a business situation does a manager find himself at his wit’s end when he discovers that work has not been done by others the way he would have done it himself? A common response is to deliver the ultimatum, whether explicitly or implicitly, ‘Do it the right way- my way.’ Not only does this latter message tend to squelch innovation and creativity, but it also trains students and employees to focus solely on what they need to do to please their teachers or their bosses, and on how much they can get away with.” 

This speaks to the heart of what makes a leader a leader, not a manager or a boss.     Here are some thoughts on avoiding  the “my way or the highway mentality” to get on the road to strong leadership: 

1.       Make sure your people understand what their job responsibilities are as well as the guidelines that should govern how to perform that job (budget, work hours, etc.), then get out of their way.  Give them the freedom to figure out how to do their job best within those parameters.  

2.       That being said, make sure before you turn someone loose, that they have the training they need to be successful and the understanding of what resources are available if and when they should need help.  

3.       Allow mistakes.  Don’t let the fear a mistake being made paralyze action.   

4.       If and when a mistake is made, don’t throw people under the bus by pointing fingers and placing blame.  Instead, see it as a learning opportunity for that staff member, and take the time to foster that learning process.

How do you avoid the my way or the highway mentality?

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