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FEB 27, 2012 1:23pm ET

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12 Shots of Leadership Espresso

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Sometimes the best leadership guidance comes in short, strong bursts flavored with a few blunt reminders. Warning: consume too many of these at one time and your team members will thank you, productivity will go up and work might become a lot more enjoyable.

12 Shots of Leadership Espresso to Help You Get it Right

  1. Lighten up a bit. Will it kill you to smile a little more this week? While Clinton might have been office the last time you smiled in the workplace, it will put you in a better mood and keep your team guessing. Do it a few days in a row and your team members might even smile back.
  2. Stifle your inner and outer critic. Everyone knows you are world-class critic. Start paying attention to what’s working and dispense a little positive feedback. Heck, go crazy and dispense a lot of positive feedback from now until you retire.
  3. Review this. People really do care about their performance reviews. The most common lament I hear is not, “gee, I had a bad review,” it’s “gee, I haven’t had a review since Clinton was in office.”  
  4. Get out of the way and let the ideas flow. Worried about a lack of ideas coming from brainstorming meetings? Newsflash: you need to stay out of them … you’re the boss and you’re the problem.
  5. Get out of the way, part II. Give people room to run and they will typically run faster and further than you ever imagined. Seriously. No one loves a micro-managing control freak as a boss.
  6. Expect more and you might just get it. While giving your people room to run, remember to set your expectations high, share your expectations and provide support. Prepare to be surprised.
  7. How sustainable is your environment? Repeat after me: “I am responsible for creating an effective workplace environment.” If you don’t know what an effective workplace environment is, your first assignment is to figure it out. Your second assignment is to make it happen.
  8. It pays to be paranoid. Everyone’s watching you. Seriously. If they are laughing or crying, something’s wrong with you. (Your leadership that is.)
  9. Talk softly and back it up. Speaking of “everyone’s watching,” does your do match your tell? If not, don’t expect to be taken seriously.
  10. Let someone else build the frames. Do you know that the way you “frame” issues biases the team towards an approach. Try shutting up more and let others around you think through the issues and options first.
  11. It’s not polite to point, unless … When things go horribly wrong, your best option is to point your finger … squarely at yourself. Anything else is unacceptable.
  12. Sometimes it’s OK to point! When things go wonderfully right, your only option is to point your finger at everyone around you. Anything else is unacceptable.

The Bottom-Line for Now

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