A YOUNG WOMAN HAVING JUST BEEN appointed as a manager for the first time recently asked me what I thought was the most important thing for leaders to think about while trying to be better at their jobs. I thought about that for more than a few seconds because I have been writing about this stuff for 40 or so years and a short answer would be tough.
So my one-line answer was: "Think about the problems of the people in your group at least as much as you think of your own."
This was kind of cheating because it implies a list of things:
* FIND OUT ALL YOU CAN ABOUT EACH one. Their experiences, their hopes and dreams. During these conversations ask questions to get them talking--(Talk one-third of the time, listen two-thirds of the time.)
* HELP THEM LEARN THAT LEADERS ASK and listen. For some reason, many think that powerful people talk all the time. Not usually true; they listen and then harness the thinking power of a group.
* LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE VITAL MEMbers of the team. Particularly when you are new, you must make the extra effort to show everyone in the group that they are important to the group. Get everyone's point of view.
* NO SURPRISES. NOTHING CAN MAKE YOU feel more left out than surprises from your boss. If you are my boss and you are making decisions without caring about my opinion, I'm going to think that I am not important here. If you want my best work, I have to be convinced that you value me, my opinion and my work. Don't announce decisions to me; tell me the problem and ask my opinion. Every time you surprise me with some decision I was not included in, you simply reduce my commitment to you. Sooner or later...