Saturday, June 19, 2010

Howie Leadership

Howie Leadership

I gave a talk recently to a room full of soon-to-graduate MBA students. We discussed the choice between behaving as a manager or being a leader.

If you want to improve from acting like a manager to becoming a leader, then here is the instant formula: Every utterance from your mouth is a question containing “how” and “we”. Before you speak a sentence out-loud, say it in your brain first. The reason you want to do this is because a leader listen first, thinks second, and speaks third. Every sentence you utter, first in your brain and then out-loud, will be a question containing the word “how” and either the word “let’s” or the word “we”.

The Howie Leader

The Manager

How can we get back on track?

This was your responsibility, why is it late?

Let’s figure this out, how can we prevent this from happening again?

Why didn’t you bring this problem to me earlier when I could have fixed it?

How can we find out what the customer really wants?

What do you think the customer wants?

How can we make sure that we are on the same page for what needs to be done and in what order?

I don’t care what anyone else said, it’s you’re job to get the priorities right. Do I have to hold your hand through every decision?

How could we anticipate what the competition will do after we launch our new line?

Tell me what you think the competition is likely to do after we launch?

Can you ask a Howie-like question and still behave like a manager? Sure! The clever manager might ask “How can we determine why you’re such an idiot?” But, while he’s being clever, he still just a manager.

Leadership is a choice, make the choice.

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