10-Point Plan: Teaching Leaders to Think
“I Don’t Pay You Think” Doesn’t Work Anymore
For years we marketed one-size-fits-all solutions, it worked to grow the numbers higher and higher by allowing companies and corporations to focus on how to give us more for less. We had access to more products at lower prices because of it.
And in that one-size-fits-all environment, it’s fairly certain that at least once in your career you heard a manager say the famous words, “I don’t pay you to think.” In fact the system relied upon carefully controlled decisions … only a few people were allowed “to think.”
Rogue thinking upset the carefully constructed system of industrial production that made the whole thing work. Even customer conversations were perfected down to scripts so that no maverick thought could undermine the “perfected” process of handling relationships.
Except customers never did find those scripts the making of a perfect relationship and now as customers have ways of connecting with each other, they’re letting us know that they’re spending their attention, time, and money with companies and corporations who build one-of-a-kind things, offer customized and personalized service, and develop true and loyal relationships.
What 20th century company or corporation was designed to manage that?
7 Steps Get the Best Leadership Thinking from Your Team
It’s been decades of businesses that have preached the mantra “I don’t teach you to think.” Leadership reaches out to build together what can’t be build alone. Ironically, it gets stronger when everyone thinks.
How does a leader build a team that leaves behind black-and-white safety of scripted relationships to the gray decision making that actually serves customers and the company? Without the right environment, support, and commitment in place it’s likely to be a mess of good intentions that foul up things.
Here are 7 steps to building a thinking, influential leadership team.
- Trust your team. It goes without saying that if you picked the right team, they’ll do the right job. If after reflection, you find that trust isn’t going to come. It’s time to change your own thinking about the people you want on your team.
- Start with a small crew. A change in management style cannot be made via a toggle switch or a pendulum swing. Rather than announcing new “rules of behavior.” Enlist a small crew who has already shown they understand both customers and what drives the business.
- Agree on the definition of a good result. Strategy always begins with knowing where we want to go. Set a goal. Define what a successful completion of that goal would be.
- Let the crew plan how to get from here to success on that one thing. You’ve agreed on the outcome and you’ve chosen the right crew. Let them show you their most efficient process for achieving it. Let them work out the details without you.
- Review the plan by asking questions. Have a short meeting for the crew to show you what they’re going to do. Limit yourself to questions rather than advice. You now have the benefit of being outside the thinking and so you can test it for holes and hidden assumptions — something you couldn’t do when you were part of building the plan. You can learn from the new ideas they bring to it.
- Stay out of their way as they execute. Ask them to keep you apprised via status updates and meetings, but stay in question so that you can be tester of the thinking rather than the only thinker in the room. When people look to you for an answer, answer with, “You have more information, than I, what seems the most appropriate action to you? Why do you think so?”
- Celebrate Success and Value What You Learn Every status meeting take a moment to celebrate successes. Invite the crew to do the same with you. Also take time to highlight and value new things, surprises, and misfires that teach what not to do.
The days of “i don’t pay you to think” are thankfully long over. True leaders are people who don’t want to do all of the thinking. Leaders are people who want to build something innovative, elegant, and useful that they can’t build alone.
Care-filled thinking, well-thought action, and thoughtful response has become the gold standard of business growth, innovation, and loyalty relationships. When everyone is thinking, the customer and the company become a community and the business thrives. Thinking is the new ROI.
The way and the level at which we value our teams’ thinking is directly proportional to the value of the thinking they return.
How do you get the best thinking from your team?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!
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