May 24, 2007

General gyan on leading people

I've recently read some books about people I admire - Branson, Semler, Dhirubhai... I was hoping to learn something from their experiences.

If you expect these people to have written about decision-making, finances, deals and learn some 'rules' about successfully running a business, you will be disappointed. I was surprised to find that many of their major decisions had been based on gut feeling rather than reason, and against widely respected 'business sense'. The common threads were passion ('I really have to do this'), vision (dreaming of the 'considered-impossible'), and their faith in their people. I guess this is what differentiates the 'explosively-successful' entrepreneurs from the also-rans. You need to really want to do something, believe you can, and trust other people to do it.

The last part is probably the hardest. If you have a big dream, you can't achieve it alone. You have to depend on others. And when you are dependant, you cant have have everything your way. A much better approach is to get others to believe in your dream, motivate them to give it their best, accept their failures and be honest with them.

I can personally vouch for the last. At work, there were a few times I was given a target which I didnt consider realistic. My subordinates also questioned me when I told them what they had to do. At this point, I've tried two approaches.

The common one - is to give people a load of crap about what is good for the business, and why the problems foreseen won't actually come up, and insisting they'd better do it or face your wrath. This will always fail and they will later say 'we told you so. Now do whatever you want. And I feel I'm under-paid.'

The other - and the one I prefer - is to honestly admit you are doing something stupid but you dont really have a choice. And to tell them you'll try your best, and hope they will too. You'll be surprised what your people can achieve when you actually trust them with responsibility.

A couple of quotations I remember from my time at P&G, which I consider golden truths:

- An organization is perfectly designed for the results it achieves. (Corollary for bosses: your team's results reflect how much they trust you. If the results aren't good enough...)

- People spend more than half of the time they are awake, in their office. They should be happy in office.

1 comment:

  1. very well written ...human existence is such that we are always distrusting simple truths and questioning what lies in front of us ..we love to complicate things but instincts and gut feel are never wrong . We should listen to the wise saying passed over generations for our benefit by we like to make our own mistakes but as long ass we are learning its good .
    Lately something made me start trusting my instincts and life has been more fruitful ever since so I can relate so much more to your post .
    It always always pays to be honest . A honest person draws respect and perople towards him / her through his/ her aura . Absolutely honesty to self is the source of extreme inner peace .Your blog is a nice read .