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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)
The 7.17 to London is always a busy train and ten days ago the trip was no exception. I planned to overnight in the capital, so had a larger suitcase than usual. I struggled to get it between the seats and sat down in frustration with the case under the table. A few moments later my future travelling companion came along and offered to stow the awkward item.
What did he do?
Well believe it or not, Chris merely turned it on its side and hey presto the case was tucked away. As he sat down, I declared "Spatial awareness is not my strong suit." We laughed! And went on to share an entertaining breakfast. Chris as it turned out, is an orthopaedic surgeon and a fascinating man to listen to. We have since connected on LinkedIn. Learn how to do likewise on my networking courses.
What's the moral of the story?
What do you know that I should know?
Learning to think, see and do things differently impacts in many aspects of life. Are you open to fresh ideas and eager to learn better ways of doing things? I certainly am. Last year I was engaged to help settle a difference of opinion between two managers. I asked each of them in turn, "What do you know that I should know?" This searching question shows that you are interested in the other person's point of view; that you are prepared to listen without prejudice. Consider this approach next time you have to settle a disagreement. Incidentally it also helps with luggage issues. Chris knew things I didn't and vice versa.
People bring their whole-selves to work
Loving your job does not mean you like it every day. Perhaps you don’t like your children every day (insert pets or family if you prefer) but you still love them don't you? Remember people don't need to like you to be influenced by you. The fact is people bring their whole selves to work. Sometimes you will have to have to reframe conversions and surround yourself with facts, opinions and information you never expected to be exposed to. That's when great managers are there for their people - unconditionally. They create an environment of respect and trust.
Returning to London
As the horrendous, tragic terror attacks in London and Manchester unfolded recently, the culture of love triumphed over evil. The groundswell of hope, strength and peace was tangible. Total strangers reached out to each other with a depth of humanity that is hard for onlookers to truly comprehend. They bonded like family. There were many unsuspecting and unsung heroes such as the homeless man who rushed to help the injured. These people touched the lives of others. Such acts renew your faith in humanity.
ISMA UK Friday 16th June
Next week I'm back in London at the ISMA conference. If you are available, please drop me a line as I may be able to organise a free ticket; especially if you involved in stress management, promoting stress prevention and wellbeing? ISMA UK I'd love to meet up with you at the event.
Tune in to this fun teamwork video that proves the power and value of working together. Long-term success does not come when you work by yourself, it comes when you work together. There's an African proverb that says, "to go fast go alone…. to go far go together.”
Can you guess your age by your music tastes? Take the quiz.
Read more on Cookies Crumble and Not Confidence... on both offering and accepting help .
Finally you'll find my regular Ted Talk recommendation on the Cookies Crumble link above.
Look to find ways help and find the good in others. More on: "How will you touch the life of another today?"