Aug 25, 2010

Leadership...Embracing the Irrational

Recently on a plane flight, I came across an interesting article about leadership in the plane's magazine. (You know, the one that's in front of you in the pocket. The one you act like you're interested in when you're having one of those days when you don't want to talk with the person beside you and just want to relax.)

Anyways, the article dealt with basic leadership instincts and why sometimes going against them is the best thing to do. Here's some examples...

Instinct: Check in too often and your employees will feel resentful and micromanaged.
Idea: When work involves decision-making and not just physical labor, leaders need to provide more than a salary. We need to pay attention to people and to the work they do.

Instinct: Motivate your most outstanding employees with an annual bonus.
Idea: Don't eliminate bonuses, but balance motivation and salary. Salary is already a form of performance-based compensation. Don't create an environment that says "If you do well you might get a bonus. If not, you might get fired."

Instinct: It's not about you-it's about the team.
Idea: Systematically remind employees of how their contribution affects the company's goals. Send a notice when a project is finished and this way help employees invest more of their egos in the final product.

Instinct: Sell your idea with a convincing arguement.
Idea: Open with a series of questions. Even if you already now the direction you'd like to take, the team will be more receptive when you ask them to improve on a proposal. Say, "Here's a general idea. Think about it, research it, develop it, and then we'll discuss and execute it together. The more attention we invest in something, the more we care about it. You'll notice how quickly people will fall in love with ideas this way.

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