I interviewed a young and highly successful executive in the German IT sector recently. I asked him outline a few of his thoughts on leadership, because having seen this man in action, it is clear that his team are truly fond of him. He's held in high regard. The owner of the company explained that his CTO had a secret magic formula of making every person feel valued. "I swear the guys would come in to work for free, just because of how he makes them feel," Dietmar added. In short, he makes every single one of them feel special."
"I aim to lead by doing; to be like plasticine," the young leader explained. "Sometimes, I'm amongst the desks and in the dust plugging things in if needs be, then in the helicopter leading the company, or maybe in silent mediation."(Was he inspired by Tony Hart's plasticine hero, Morph?)
Make problems delicious!
"I like to supply enough information that a problem is not solved, yet not too little information that it is like climbing Mount Everest. I look to make problems delicious; to create the right balance for the right problem and ego. I don't treat anyone differently. My aim is to allow the team to self-manage. We put the work into the pipeline and they figure out how to deliver it. They ask for help along the way. If it needs a course correct, we jump in. We have daily check-points. They push. We tune.
In the middle of the office there is a centre piece, a huge 450 x 600 cm whiteboard on the wall. It belongs to the team. They manage it. On the left side is incoming, the middle is for things that are moving along and the right side is stuff that's done. All around are little constellations of interest or discussion. For this tooling is very important and without prejudice (within reason) the team will always get the best tools for the job.
If an employee goes out of their way to do an extra shift or put in extra hours, I like to take him and his partner out for a meal. I look to find little ways to say thank you."
He went on explain his methods of recruitment, why his team is like United Nations, and to extol the virtues of autonomy, mastery and purpose in a fresh and engaging way. I don't know about you, I'd enjoy working on this guy's team. I love his perspective. I was attracted to his self-confidence yet his humility was disarming. He was eager to share the credit with others. Perhaps we can all learn from him. How do you make people feel? Some people light up a room as they enter; others when they leave...
Read more on balance in Don't Taunt Elephants.
More Mount Everest...
Tune into this Podcast on flexibility. It's a direct cousin to plasticine :) Expert mountaineer Cathy O'Dowd expands her theories and experience of being the only woman to climb the mountain from both sides.
Think of the best boss you've ever known. Here are 27 things he or she probably never stopped doing. To the list I'd add:
28. Be like plasticine
29. Make problems delicious.
Finally, why have one Ted Talk suggestions when you can have five? Check out:
TedTalks Issue 1 - Eilidh's Viewing List (1038 KB)
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Make Problems Delicious