Friday, October 1, 2010

KeFactors Fridays: What I Learned Teaching My Kid to Drive

Nothing—but nothing—will test a parent’s nerves more than riding shotgun with an eager young driver who has yet to feel their own mortality, and sees the family car as the means to escape the confines of the life you have created for them.

It is possible, however, to derive leadership lessons even as your life is flashing
before your middle-aged eyes.

• Screaming doesn’t help. Most intelligent people learn from their mistakes—when
they’re permitted to make them. Should you tolerate a repetition of careless mistakes? No, absolutely not; but workplace experiments made in good faith will serve two purposes—one is to manifest process problems, and the other is to create enough pain that errors never get repeated. So screaming at your employees for genuine efforts and making the mistakes natural to that is…irrelevant.

Give support. Even white-knuckled nervous support is better than nothing. As a
leader, you don’t need to man the wheel, and you’re within your rights to say, “This approach makes me a little nervous, but if you think this will work, then let me know what you need to make it happen.” Your employees are looking to you for guidance and perspective. Anything truly ill-advised deserves your wisdom: “This, my friends and colleagues, is not a ditch we’d want to die in.” But once you promise support, you’re “in the car” with them. To the end of the road.

Leave micromanagement to the amateurs. Most micromanagers believe they’re just
being conscientious bosses. Not so. Sooner or later, everyone has to get their own feel for the turn of the wheel, and to navigate in ways that make sense to them. Micromanaging your employees to the last degree not only makes them feel rattled and disempowered, but broadcasts that you don’t understand your own job well enough to maintain a bigger- picture perspective.

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