The first time I rushed into his office to tell him about a problem, he calmly opened his desk drawer, took out a water pistol, and shot me in the shoulder. I was stunned as I looked at the water running down my jacket. If not, I could expect to be shot. This really added new meaning to the phrase shooting the messenger. What a wise leader he was because he created an atmosphere where everyone was expected to contribute and where all ideas were valued.
You have to be keenly aware of this tendency and work like crazy to overcome it. Take the time to do an honest self-assessment. If you exhibit these traits, you have some work to do to hone this instinct. Ensuring That the Spotlight Stays on Me This behavioral trait is the one responsible for a high level of office politics. We can all recognize someone who has this trait. This person has zero listening skills and is only interested in one thing—getting credit. We all know people who live by that motto. They come galloping to the rescue any time there is a fire, and they let everyone know that they just solved a major problem or prevented a major disaster.
The flaw is that these firefighters are often creating problems and merchandising shortcomings to management only so they can later position themselves as the heroes in solving the problem. Unfortunately, disengaged senior managers often fall for this trick. Hiring below Expectations Rather Than above Expectations It is easy to say you subscribe to the theory of hiring the best athlete available, but it is another thing to actually do it. As you move up, you are only as good as the people who work for you. That bears repeating. You are only as good as the people who work for you. Powerful organizations are created because someone somewhere had the courage to hire people better than himself.
When someone was made head of an office, he would send them a Matrioshka doll from Gorky. Inside each was a smaller doll, and when the recipient opened the smallest doll the following message was discovered: If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants. Viewing Dialogue and Debate on Your Point of View as Corporate Treason Viewing debate as treasonous tends to appear once you have made it to a management position.
This person gets angry when someone questions his opinion or challenges his ideas. They are looking for the opportunity to contribute, to be challenged, and to be heard. The best leader is not necessarily the smartest person in the room but the person who possesses the ability to create order and consensus out of chaos. I welcomed it when someone pushed back on a suggestion I put up for consideration. If you find yourself controlling the discussion and discover that there is no discussion, stop, drop, and roll.
Take a deep breath, and vow to listen and to invite ideas. It may take a couple of times for people to believe you, but you can—and must—change this trait if you want to be a great leader. Do you find yourself getting excited when you hear an idea and immediately begin thinking how it could work? Do you take time to ask questions and really listen to anyone who may be affected by a decision? Do you remember what it feels like to have someone else take credit for your idea?
Have you ever hired anyone better or smarter than you? The good news is you can be cured. Read on. To make sure it happens, put it on the agenda. Ask a trusted colleague or friend a corporate soul mate, maybe? A colleague and I had a secret code word that we used in meetings. We said it if the other person was becoming a bully and squashing ideas. Schedule specific meetings with different levels of employees or customers simply to listen to their ideas.
If that was a bad habit of yours, own up to it, and tell them there is a new policy now. You want and need open feedback—good and bad. Are you saying that if you were married you would not have been as effective of a leader? As a result, when we had staff events, the hours got late, and it was easy for me to stay with the troops, have another beer, and talk about who knows what. SCOTT: Yeah, I think it was easy for me to look at those at the company as my extended family—not just in hollow words, but sincerely. I think they knew they were important to me, in a way that was different from others they have worked for.
Because we are talking about taking things personally, there is one thing I want you to know—an observation on our year relationship that this chapter has caused me to consider. SCOTT: Not once during the first five years of our working relationship do I remember ever having a conversation regarding anything to do with my life.
We talked for hours at night, on weekends, and traveled together. Yet, we never dedicated a portion of that time to an extended conversation about what was going on in my life. I find that fascinating. People work harder for people they like and respect. Think about it. Business is personal. Your career is personal. How you manage others is personal. To think and to act otherwise is to fool yourself and to shortchange your own career as well as the careers of those who work for you. Let us be perfectly clear here.
And, if the time calls for it, it is okay to cry. In other words, taking it personally is about leading from the heart. I ran a large local fast-food account in a rather large city. We had been handling the business for several years, and the time had come for the headquarters two hours away to resign this business.
It was the primary business I worked on and the reason I had moved there. The head of the office asked me to resign the business at the next co-op meeting. Well, I got a quarter of the way through the speech and just broke down, sobbing like a baby in her arms. She knew how much I had enjoyed those people and what a labor of love I had put into their account. This emotional display had little to do with dollars and cents, but was the result of the human capital I had put in on their account and how I got to know many of them as friends.
There are a handful of times I can remember crying in the office. Assuming other instincts are present and are able to serve as a check and balance , we see this personal investment as a good thing. Learning from the Masters Craig Abbott. Chuck Harrison. Jack Hartnett. Bobby Merritt. In our Sonic world, these gentlemen were masters of the universe. They were great operators, savvy businessmen, and good franchisees.
But they also had something else in common—they cared deeply about their employees and their business. They wore their emotions on their sleeves—that is, when they had sleeves. They would literally give you the shirt off their backs. And we mean literally. Once a customer told one of them how much he liked the Sonic shirt he had on. Within minutes, the franchisee was wearing another shirt and the startled customer was holding the Sonic shirt. They gave their hearts and what they got in return was respect, devotion, and success—not just personally, but for their businesses and their employees.
If you can lead with your heart in the cutthroat fast-food business, you can lead with your heart anywhere. Most of us probably spend more time at work than we do at home—which means we interact more, share more, challenge more, and rely more on our colleagues than we do on those at home assuming there is someone at home. For the worker who is single, the work world often provides the sense of human interaction and dependence that makes him or her feel complete. It is not unusual to feel as though the office is where your family is housed. In other words, you have an extended family at work.
What you do with them determines what you get out of them. Both of us believe there are positives that come from taking a genuine interest in the lives of your bosses, your peers, and your subordinates. When you take an interest in those around you, your leadership style takes on qualities that are meaningful, endearing, and supportive. We believe that the more you understand those around you, the more you are able to effectively manage and motivate them. It sends the message that you care about your employees beyond the value they bring to the office or to the corporate spreadsheet.
You should have a genuine interest in their happiness and feel like a proud parent when they reach a new level of achievement at the office. Very quickly, he opens up and begins to share. Where else can you get that kind of return for 10 minutes worth of conversation? Makes It All Worth It The following excerpts are from several notes that Scott received from employees and former employees over the years: Your leadership, passion, and sense of humor are unmatched. You always treated me as you did everyone with courtesy and respect. It meant a great deal.
You have a genuine energy that few people possess. You were the key reason we enjoyed working at the agency so much. This made you a person instead of a president, and that made a huge difference. Others have tried to repeat, but the biggest difference was your sincerity. I guess when you create a fun work atmosphere lead by people who truly care like you did the result is having more passionate and dedicated employees like we were.
Those were excellent years. Regardless of what business you are in, as you move your way up the corporate ladder, you will we hope receive e-mails, letters or cards that thank you for something or acknowledge your efforts, your influence, your character, and more. Every time you receive one, we would ask that you put it in a file, not electronically, but print it out so you see it and feel it.
And on those days the ones we all have , when the business realities of the moment cause extreme self-doubt, stress or depression, you simply reach for the file. Lay the notes out on your desk and begin to read them one by one. Instantly, you are reminded why you love the business, the good others see in you and the impact you have had on associates. In no time, the negativity is minimized and your purpose reclaimed.
This just might be the most important file you ever create and the only one with such medicinal power. I announced my decision to Dick Lear, a franchisee in Dallas with a heart bigger than Texas. In fact, he made me cry, and reconsider. I was so touched by how much he cared about the brand and about me that I decided I would take the job.
- Coaching youth cricket.
- Bliss, Remembered: A Novel.
- The psychopath in the corner office.
Getting personal and showing that you care can make all the difference in the world. It did for me. Thank you, Dick. If you have this instinct, the interest and engagement with those around you comes naturally. There are moments car rides, travel time, and meals where you can connect on a completely different level. To get to the corner office, you must understand what is on the minds and in the hearts of those who depend on you. Yet, we have the audacity to expect them not to bring any of their home life to work?
Because of that, we worked harder, we cared more, and we felt a deep sense of loyalty and pride. This gentleman and his associates felt so bad about it that they presented me with a brand new purse at our next meeting. As a new member of senior management, I was heartbroken when I learned that a board meeting had been scheduled at the same time as an important school concert.
Because the chairman and CEO was so understanding, he had the board meeting rescheduled. When I went through an unexpected and sudden divorce, the chairman of the company I worked for took time to come visit with me personally. He also told me to take off whenever I needed to.
As a single mom, I had no choice one day but to bring a toddler to work with me—just for a few hours. I situated her in the conference room across from my office—with Cheerios and a Barney video—checking on her every few minutes. Much to my surprise, I discovered that same chairman sitting in there and watching Barney with her.
This wise grandfather and leader told me to quit worrying and get back to work; Melissa would be fine. They could see that I was being asked to do something resign their business that ultimately would result in my unemployment—and they wanted no part of it. He did, and he got a lesson in leadership that he should have already learned.
Working on an airline account, I was in London for the first time and had been working around the clock. On my last day there, the head of the office grabbed me, took me to a tour bus, and made me take a four-hour tour of the city so I could at least have some sense of appreciation of where I was. I had not seen them for quite some time, and to see them come walking in from the back of the room was really a memory that will last a lifetime. Did you ever see a picture of a dejected fan sitting in his seat after the game? Sports fans take this emotional investment to the extreme.
People like to be emotionally invested in things that are a big part of their lives, even if they have little control over the final performance. Make it your mission to help everyone yourself included be a fan for your company. Wear your company logo proudly and encourage others to do so as well. It provides an emotional connection, a sense of belonging, and a sense of pride. However, monitor your behavior while in corporate clothing. You are a walking advertisement for the brand. In this case, they are probably not good spokespeople for the brand.
Conclusion If you are practicing this instinct, your enthusiasm will catch on. It will make work more fun, more productive, and more rewarding. To get personally involved with staffers or clients and to still be able to manage in the best interest of the organization is the ultimate display of corporate self-confidence and leadership. When someone who reports to you resigns, do you take a hard look at what you could have done differently?
Have you ever been to the house of a direct report for social reasons? Do you ever stop by an office, sit down, and ask the associate how things are with the family? When aware of issues, do you ever insist that associates not come in or take time off to deal with their issues? Do you send birthday cards or holiday cards to associates and their spouses? If you answered no to any of these questions, your heart may be getting hard. A proper diet and exercise as prescribed next should open those arteries in no time.
Make it a point to take key direct reports to lunch over the next month and vow to not talk about business. Share some of your life and interests, and learn about theirs. When someone has been working really long hours, send their spouse flowers or a dinner gift card with a note that says you noticed and appreciate the efforts.
SCOTT: We told them a couple weeks beforehand to block off an afternoon, then we had four big buses out front of the office and made them all leave their desks and get their butts onto the buses. We took all the buses full of employees to the local mall. No one had any idea what was going on.
They had to spend the cash on themselves—not a spouse, not a child, not a boyfriend. We got them back on the buses, took them to a local club for drinks and some food. Then, at P. The local paper even ran a story on the event. And no one plays a greater role in their well-being and engagement, the survey finds, than their supervisor. The day you begin to supervise even one other person you take on an enormous responsibility.
When we supervised, our leadership was simple and clear— we vowed to always protect, honor, and defend those who worked for us. We found that placing them first, with these vows in mind, brought improved morale, strengthened performance, and increased retention—three areas any leader should strive to impact. This respect includes the desire to always protect, honor, and defend your staff. In the business world, if your leadership does not protect, honor, and defend your people, what will?
This instinct must govern your actions in both good times and bad. Warning: The bad times are the most challenging and require discipline. When times get tough in corporate America, the result is often a frenzy of pointing fingers and the search for scapegoats. Do not allow this instinct to come in and out of your management practice. This instinct serves you well on the road to the corner office because it demonstrates to all that you are a leader who acts in a consistent, ethical manner, regardless of the environment.
This instinct is about leading with a steady hand and upholding ethics and integrity no matter what. Place People First There was a time when business was flat and our company had an abusive client. The team traveled across the country to attend meetings and then they were berated and treated with little, if any, respect. After hearing story after story like this, management reached the tough decision to resign the client. When I announced it, however, they applauded.
To this day, I believe they applauded the decision because they saw management placing a value on the employee that exceeded that of the almighty dollar. That is how you lead with this instinct. Protect: Take the Heat for Those Who Burn Easily Nothing will earn you more respect or endearment from those who work for you than the concept of protect.
Protect means you serve as a barrier—a bulletproof vest of sorts—when it comes to attacks on your staff. Your people need to know that, as their leader, you start with unconditional trust and faith in their efforts and intent. This instinct delivers a safe and secure environment to them. When leaders blend the best qualities of a coach, mentor, professor, and parent, they are viewed as the kind of leader who will always protect the interests of their associates.
Research shows that productivity can increase up to 40 percent if workers feel secure with their job and work environment. Issues will be brought up promptly in a trustful and blameless environment. Innovation will flourish as risks are rewarded, not punished. If you protect your employees, you create a low-risk environment where people feel free to share ideas, suggest new and innovative ideas, and even gasp! People need the assurance that these ideas will be received in the spirit they were offered—even if the ideas are not workable or the critique is not flattering.
Ideas Welcome Here Some companies get it. They encourage risk-taking, and they welcome ideas from all employees. QuikTrip Corporation, a convenience store and gasoline retailer, is one of those companies. They exemplify a low-risk environment and leadership who welcomes all ideas. I recently observed this openness to input during an audit committee meeting where potential accounting firms were being interviewed. A very competent administrative assistant, Kandy Collins, was responsible for getting all the proposals in and for making the arrangements for the presentations.
As a result, she had a great deal of contact with the firms. On the day of the presentations to the audit committee and senior management, Kandy was there to take notes. At the end of the presentations, when we were discussing the pros and cons of the various firms, Kandy offered her observations and comments. In most corporate boardrooms, that would not happen. I was surprised, but thrilled because she had very good observations.
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I looked around the room while she was talking to check out the reactions of senior management, and there was no adverse reaction. It was obvious that this was a perfectly normal thing to happen. I commented on how remarkable this was to Chet Cadieux, the chairman and CEO, and he was surprised that I thought it was out of the ordinary. She was the head of marketing and, as such, had final approval over the television commercials that we produced. She encouraged us to take risks and protected us fiercely when we did.
No one liked it and everyone was trying to figure out ways to fix it. Sometimes that happens. Her gesture alone would have been enough for the creative folks to walk on fire for her. She ultimately faced criticism for this failure. When someone demanded to know who was responsible, her answer was simple. I approved it. What was her name? In those cases, you act swiftly to minimize the damage. By doing so, you are actually protecting those on your team who are carrying their own weight and adding that of the underperformers. Do not reward their behavior with plum assignments, even if it will make your life easier in the short term.
Never point your finger. Then, in private, remedy the situation. When you have to reprimand and you will have to , never do it in public or via e-mail or voice mail. Reward mistakes that come from taking risks. You must truly care about them as people. Unfortunately, corporate America is not known for its care and compassion.
That is good news because it gives you a wonderful opportunity to be different—to be a real leader. We both genuinely cared about the people who worked for us, and they knew it. The word care can be trite at times. While we both may have honored our staff more than most, we were careful not to allow this genuine caring to cloud the tough issues that faced us as managers every day.
A tough balancing act was needed to ensure honor was practiced in a positive way. Compassion did not keep us from making hard decisions like department reorganizations, layoffs, or pay freezes—even if it impacted friends or staff we had become close with. When your staff knows they are genuinely cared for, these tough decisions are greeted with respect and an understanding that a particular action was in the best interest of all. Business Is Business Twice, I had to let people go who were very close to me.
One time it was one of my closest friends. It did cause me sleepless nights, but friendship is not a reason to make exceptions. If I had, I would have sent the wrong message to everyone and created questions regarding my leadership. Instead, the message to everyone was clear: I would not waver in making decisions that were in the best interest of the company, even when they were difficult to make on a personal level. As you move up and find yourself managing staff or adding to the staff you manage, accomplishments will, in large part, be due to their efforts, not yours.
There are no gestures too small when it comes to celebrating success. When they won, the players celebrated on the field while the coach sat back and watched. I saw that in action at a recent awards ceremony where David was inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame, along with several other prominent Tulsans.
Each winner had someone who introduced him or her and talked about his or her accomplishments, and then the winner spoke. There was nothing about him. That was in stark contrast to the other award winners, whose introductions and remarks were about them. Send flowers or a gift certificate to the spouse of someone who has been working extended hours or traveling frequently. When success occurs, highlight and salute the smallest of contributions, and downplay the positions with seniority.
Look for reasons to thank, salute, and congratulate associates for their efforts. The defend instinct is demonstrated by conveying to your staff that you think of yourself as a member of their team. You want to be seen as the coach who is in the dugout with them, not as the general manager who sits in the office constantly evaluating their worth.
Coaches who connect with and stand up for their players often get maximum results. How does this translate to the workplace? If you hide in your office spending all your time managing up, you will not be relating to your staff and eventually you will be deemed an ineffective leader. It was hot, steamy, and miserable, and we were part of a marching band parade—Mardi Gras style— through the streets. I started talking to the gentleman next to me and learned that he had recently joined Sonic from Burger King. When he learned that I was the president of Sonic, he was totally astonished.
He said he had worked for Burger King for 18 years and had never even met a vice president. My thought was what a loss—not his, but theirs. In doing so, you reinforce the message that no one person is more or less important in a team. To be successful at this you must make an effort to build a genuine connection between you and your staff—and sometimes, most importantly, the most junior member of your staff. As you move up, most will expect you to increasingly distance yourself from lower-level employees and it will be easy to do so, given the demands on your time.
Stay in touch with all your employees. Stay late to help them put a presentation together. Ask before leaving if there is anything you can do to help— and mean it. Be accessible and available to all your staff and interested in the issues they are concerned with. Do you remember how you valued the time you had with your bosses when you were starting out? Encourage any positive, well-meaning critiques of the status quo—so much that no one is afraid of retribution for coming to you with suggestions.
Always be honest and share as much as you can; honesty is a strong link to developing trust. Conclusion Take a Leadership Oath Jurors are sworn in. Elected officials take an oath of office. Boy Scouts recite a pledge. Couples exchange marriage vows with each other. You will be an ineffective leader if no one follows you, and very few will passionately follow a leader who does not take an oath to protect, honor, and defend their charges. If you are going to lead, you need to take this oath as seriously as any of the other oaths.
Make a vow with yourself that you will work to deliver those traits to your first direct report. Senior management looks to promote those who can rally the troops—who can get them focused and motivated to achieve goals. If you are going to ascend to the corner office, you must be able to not only articulate a compelling vision and direction, but you must also find a way to emotionally and personally connect with those who will be working for you. Your direct reports will depend on your leadership and you will depend on their quality of work. Your success in getting to the corner office will be directly linked to your ability to motivate your associates to achieve a quality of work second to none.
Have you ever taken the blame or criticism for something someone on your team did? Can you remember the last time you stayed late with the troops to help on a project? Have you ever done something special for an employee who has been working extra hours? Do you spend any time with the lowest paid associate on your team? You know how to protect, honor, and defend; your employees will help you move up. If not, focus on developing this instinct by taking the following actions.
Implement an evaluation process where your direct reports evaluate you anonymously and probe them about the issues of protect, honor, and defend. Hire a life coach to help you implement specific exercises at work to engage on a deeper level with your staff. Every six months, commit to sending each member of your staff a thank-you card for their efforts on behalf of the company. Have lunch with someone different on your staff every week, just the two of you. Find a reason to celebrate as a staff every four months. Which it? SCOTT: You know, the it in itch, as in the itch to work harder, do more, or volunteer to take on extra projects.
But why am I asking? I bet you were an overachiever in preschool. What about you? We never told you the road to the corner office was short. You might be able to avoid putting in such long hours if your dad owns the company, but if you want to arrive at the corner office, you had best be prepared for what awaits you behind the door. You need to accept that it will take at least that amount of time and probably more to demonstrate you have what it takes to get to that office. Yes, unfortunately in many cases, it takes more than 60 to 65 hours a week. But it is not all doom and gloom.
The long hours required hardly become an issue if you have a soul mate, a passion for what you do, and the proper leadership instincts. But make no mistake about it: to get to the corner office, you must be aware of, accept, and embrace the hours needed for the journey. This chapter is designed to filter out those who are weak of heart for long nights with bad Chinese food at the office. They work fewer hours and generate more time for themselves or for others. It is a choice each individual makes. Some choose to deemphasize their career and make it more of a job, something they can leave at the end of the day and not revisit until they sit at their desks the next day.
Others we presume those who are reading this book want to grab all they can, and create a career with unlimited potential, and they recognize that the hours are going to be different. People who love what they do and are genuinely engaged, curious, and eager to learn never stop working. There is a different term for these folks—fast tracker. Fast trackers have that itch to do more, to learn more, and to help out, and they feel responsible to or for people.
They pay attention to results, to people, and to their tasks. We have found that these aspiring leaders take that same approach whether it is at work, at church, or for the local theater group. Watching the tireless efforts of volunteers helped me understand the difference between workers and leaders early in my career. Meetings lasted late into the night and all weekend. Why did they do this and how did they keep it up? We both discovered early in our careers that when you love what you do, going the extra mile is effortless.
Just think of all the money you are saving by not going out. The comment about sacrifice is a critical one. Make no mistake: getting to the corner office absolutely requires sacrifices. Working long hours and missing out on many a social outing are sacrifices. We advise against trying to fake your way through this one. This attitude will show in your demeanor and your work product. The challenge early in our careers was attempting to demonstrate an impressive capacity for work as well as providing the bosses an impressive product.
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To demonstrate both work capacity and intellect, we discovered we needed an abundance of a hardto-find currency—time. This is where Saturday came in quite handy early in our careers. The Saturday Stroll We both liked to come into the office on Saturday. On Saturday, we marched into our offices at A. I know you might be wondering why we mentioned noise. Where there was noise, there was the likelihood that a senior manager would follow his or her ears and eventually be standing in the doorway, offering up some quip about how tough it must be to be at work on Saturday.
When that happened, you could almost smell the promotion coming. If the car and the noise had not produced a senior manager by P. This was our stage. Things did not always go as planned, and there was no more deflating feeling than heading home at P. Come on, you can admit it. Now be honest, if you winced a little or sighed out loud when you read the word Saturday, we need you to read it again. In time, you will learn to embrace Saturdays and view the time in the office as a step in the long journey to the corner office.
Weekend Warrior Redefined As I moved into positions with more seniority, I actually came into the office on the weekends much less. Some of that was because of the changing nature of my work, and some was due to technology. By not being in the office, though, I was able to weave work and family commitments together more effortlessly. The time together was good for them, and it was good for me to scope out what new things the competition was doing. Watching television at night with the family gave me a chance to see what was new in the world of television programming and commercials.
Whether you come in on Saturday, stay late, volunteer to take on an extra project, or volunteer in the community, you will accomplish two things: First, you will be seen as someone who has what it takes to move up and who is willing to work hard. Do you feel anticipation in going to the office on a weekend because you know there are few, if any, distractions?
Are you willing to eat a dinner or two alone at the office? Do you challenge your own capacity by taking on extra projects? Is the task always more important than the time required to complete it? Do you have friends who understand your drive at work and, as a result, who have a positive influence on you? If you answered yes to all of the above, then you understand the difference between a career and a job.
Volunteer to stay late to help with a big project. Hint: A big project could be stuffing envelopes or putting labels on a mailer that needs to go out. There should be no project beneath you. Step up to the plate in a meeting and offer to take on the task that has everyone else looking at their shoes—or, at least, offer to help with it. Go visit your competitors, or spend time researching information about them. Why do you suppose that was? SCOTT: Only because you had an obsessive, and welldocumented, habit of leaving voice mails at all hours of the night. One year at our company Christmas party, the spouse of one of my coworkers came to me and asked me why I left her husband voice mails in the middle of the night and disrupted their sleep emphasis on their.
So I asked her how she knew and why it was disruptive. Any time he received a voice mail, his pager went off. He kept it on the nightstand and would get up and check his messages whenever it went off. I was so embarrassed that I stopped leaving messages in the middle of the night—for him, at least.
The tortoise has the lead. My middle name is speed. Slow and steady—and smart—beat speed in that race every time. Technology has made them fast—just like the hare. But it has also lured them into believing that fast wins the race. Smart always beats fast. We have BlackBerries and Treos. We can get reception just about anywhere, and we can always check and respond to our e-mails. Because of that, an expectation now exists that people will respond immediately, no matter what.
We actually had to drive our cars gasp! We will confess, however, that when the technology did become available, we got caught up in the speed and efficiency of it all. We had to exercise exceptional discipline not to allow it to control our entire life one of us was better at this than the other. Proud to Be One of the Last Holdouts As technology progressed, everyone at the agency was clamoring to get the new PDA that served as both phone and e-mail.
When it came my turn, I refused. I felt as if the issue was similar to a separation of church and state. I told our vice president of information technology that I had no interest in having a phone that also served as my office inbox. I explained that when I make a call at a ballgame, or get a call on Saturday at A. You may take great pride in the commitment to respond to e-mails and voice messages instantly. Guess what? Send us a message at A.
A friend of mine confessed to me that he had gotten in big trouble with his wife over his new BlackBerry. It seems that he was checking messages in church. His wife noticed and reached over, punched him rightly so , and made him stop. A word of caution, though, before you rush to judgment.
I observed a pastor checking messages on his PDA during a sermon, and I was appalled, only to later learn that he had the Bible loaded and was actually looking up Bible verses. Even worse, you not only stop and check it, but you fire off an instant response. You check for new messages constantly—at stoplights, ball games, the theatre—sometimes by covertly hiding your PDA in your lap. Your cell phone is always with you, and you always answer it no matter where you are.
You feel a great sense of accomplishment by replying quickly to your e-mails and getting that checked off your list. Both of us have had to work hard to battle this addiction. Sorry—I am still working on that addiction thing. If you want to get to the corner office, though, we have some advice: break the speed habit. Set a goal of being judged by the content of your communications, not the speed with which you respond.
Herein lies the difference between employee and boss. The good news is that you really have an opportunity to stand out by focusing more on content. Send us a thoughtful and insightful memo at A. Dumb and Dumber If you are a leader or an aspiring leader, listen up. We want to share something with you that could become a significant competitive advantage for your company. We believe that our obsession with instant communication is contributing to the dumbing down of corporate America.
It is getting dumber. When you spend all your time responding, you lose the ability to envision and dream about the future. And when you lose your ability to dream, you dull your ability to think, and think big. When was the last time you took time to think? To create an environment void of disruption, technology today requires you to be proactive by exercising your right to activate those seldom-used buttons—the off and silent buttons. Do you know where your buttons are, and have you used them lately? But I know that innovation is the key to our survival and the survival of our clients.
While innovative ideas do spring from inspired thought, the key is having the time to devote to thought. So, in the midst of any busy day, I find I must make an appointment with myself to guarantee I have thinking time. This lack of engagement is also a huge contributor to the dumbing down of corporate America. Great ideas, new inventions, breakthrough thinking, and solutions to problems rarely happen in isolation. You may think it sounds like Hollywood, but we believe, and we know from experience, that this is still how many ideas occur. Time together, uninterrupted, is what corporate America is losing.
And that is the last thing it can afford to lose. Increasingly, though, we see work associates sending e-mails to the person in the next cubicle or leaving voice mails when they know nobody is there.
The Psychopath in the Corner Office
While this certainly reduces potential confrontations, it also reduces collaboration and the ability to build on ideas and make them bigger and better. It builds teamwork, but it also builds stronger ideas. And the fact is collaboration builds. Keep that in mind. We think someone should invent a cloaking device that prohibits you from sending an e-mail or voice mail to anyone in an office next to you. Then you would be required to talk to him or her.
Case in point: In working on this book, we would frequently call each other and read sections or test outline ideas. By talking to each other, we were able to challenge ideas, make suggestions, and improve the final product. Conclusion The tortoise won the race. The tortoise kept his eye on the prize and kept going forward. Smart gets you to the corner office and helps you stay there. Is your BlackBerry set up to wake you in the middle of the night if an e-mail comes in?
Would you choose to respond even though your answer is incomplete? Have you copied more people than necessary, just because it is easier to do so? Do you make a conscious decision to express thoughts in fewer words because of the nuances of the BlackBerry? Have you ever turned your BlackBerry or your cell phone off in order to provide you with uninterrupted think time? The correct answers are no, no, no, no, and yes. Read on for help. Organize your day so that you set specific time aside at the beginning or end of the day to check and respond to messages.
Discipline yourself not to check messages throughout the day. Set aside blocks of uninterrupted time turn off cell phones and BlackBerries to think and work on major projects. Instead of sending an e-mail asking questions, try doing it in person or by phone. Type an instant response to an e-mail if you want, but make a rule to put that e-mail in your draft file for at least six hours.
SCOTT: I mean, we were always talking late at night, we were traveling together and, of course, we could link anything back to business. I consider myself quite interesting. It may make you boring. SCOTT: Oh, funny, I thought it was you who answered the phone and ended up for the next hour unscheduled I might add , talking about the pros and cons of the idea.
And in doing so, it must have been fascinating for those in the car, or at the dinner table, to listen to us talk. PATTYE: I swear you called me one time from a baseball game because of something someone was eating two rows in front of you. Wow, you are right, we are boring! That seems to have a nicer ring to it. Leaders spend a lot of time and money in an attempt to get their employees to be innovative—to think outside the box. Innovation is happening out there, though. So where do employees get the creativity, drive, and confidence to venture outside of the safe solution and come up with innovative answers?
When you engage with work, you move from working a job to managing a career see Instinct 7. Once you begin to manage a career, you realize the long-term benefits of taking initiative, and often these initiatives are solution-based. It is one thing to say you seek innovative solutions; it is quite another to develop the discipline needed to deliver them. Despite the unpredictability of idea generation, there is one thing we know for sure: If you limit the time you are thinking about the business to when you are at work, the corner office is probably not for you.
If you are engaged with the workplace, however, chances are quite good you will begin to view everything as your inspiration—your muse, if you will. Then, the sky is the limit. What the Heck Is a Nutcracker? The concept of the nutcracker is truly quite simple. It is a powerful tool that separates the best from the rest. This is not about those who take their inbox and their busy work home with them. Many people do that. The nutcracker is symbolic of the emotional and intellectual drive to crack the code on any major and pressing business issues.
When you pack your nutcracker, you leave the office with those issues and, as a result, you have a curiosity and drive that forces you to use the outside world as your muse.
See a Problem?
There are many people who seek that next promotion because they believe they are the best of class in their departments. At the end of the day, however, when they press that elevator button, step in, and see that door close, they become the modernday version of Fred Flintstone. They may have a bulging briefcase, but they are working on the wrong stuff. Unfortunately, though, these are the people who seldom are thought of as leaders, who rarely bring new and unique insights to the table, but who will still complain when they are passed over for a promotion.
As we reflect back on our careers, a major contributor to our success was that we never left the office without our nutcracker and a couple of big nuts. What You Can Learn from an Oreo As a volunteer for the national Arthritis Foundation, I had been asked to make a presentation explaining the concept of branding to the board of trustees. Branding can be a difficult concept to explain, particularly when it involves changing to a new image and one consistent message and look.
That was it—the concept of branding! So before the presentation, I set out a tray of assorted treats—always with one branded and one generic of the same treat. And I watched and prayed that the board members would behave like the second graders. They did. Those treats became the cornerstone of the presentation; the board approved the branding recommendation as a result. It was a good thing my nutcracker was with me at that homeroom party. Unfortunately, the corporate reality is that business solutions take time, insight, and creative thinking to solve, or crack, if you will.
We strongly believe that creative problem solving is stronger outside of the workplace. That is one of the reasons management teams have off-site retreats to help solve big problems and then everyone attends the meetings with their BlackBerries. The belief is that the mind is more open and receptive to new ideas when away from the workplace.
Make it a point to observe your fellow coworkers when they leave the office. Those who have their sights set on the corner office pack the burning business issues and their nutcracker. Or if you do listen to a song, a certain lyric sparks an idea on a new product. Rather than racing through the grocery store, you strike up a conversation with an employee in the produce section and it sparks an idea. While at dinner, your daughter drops something into her milk, and, at that moment instead of scolding her, you see a potential product merger, and you write it down on a napkin for future reference this actually happened.
Rather than roll over and go back to sleep, you get up from bed to draw out a diagram that could be the answer to a logistics problem. Even a Nutcracker Loves the Great American Pastime There is little I love more in the summer than to go to the ballpark and watch the local major league baseball team.
The sun, the beer, the crack of the bat and—hey, wait a second—what the heck is that person eating three rows in front of me? There, in this giant box, was a gathering of food begging for my attention—a giant helping of tater tots, sour cream, and chili. If I saw it from three rows back, imagine how it would sell full screen on television.
I left a message; she returned the call around the fifth inning; and for the next two innings, we talked sales and product potential. Now if I can only remember if we won the game. The nutcracker is about having that sense of competitiveness deep inside you that says I want to be the one who cracks this initiative and I want my name attached to the solution.
The nutcracker represents the uneasiness and emptiness you feel until the problem is solved. The presence or absence of a nutcracker will determine in many ways if you have what it takes to make it to the corner office. Not until we started writing this book did I confess something to my coauthor. I finally admitted to her that she was a marked woman whenever several of us flew together to meetings over the year.
No one wanted to sit with her because her passion for the business was downright exhausting. The reality is we both had our nutcrackers out and were eager to engage in conversations that might help us crack those big nuts. The conversations may have been about work, about family, about sports, and they may have even involved the passengers sitting by us. But while others were sleeping or reading the latest whodunit, we were cracking nuts.
Please enable cookies in your browser to get the full Trove experience. Skip to content Skip to search. Published Hoboken, N. Language English View all editions Prev Next edition 4 of 4. Subjects Career development. Success in business. Get Married Again.
The Psychopath in the Corner Office
Your Spouse Won? Check for Blocked Arteries Instinct: It? Careers Don? Notes Includes index. View online Borrow Buy Freely available Show 0 more links None of your libraries hold this item. Found at these bookshops Searching - please wait