Today's Reading


Going from leading or following to "leading with" may seem daunting, but it doesn't require any drastic action. There's no need to fire your talent or reorganize your entire operation, as many management gurus might suggest. All it requires is a willingness to see things differently, along with using and strengthening the associated skills.

Over the years, I have noticed that three key problems repeat themselves in almost all organizations in very different segments. From health care giants and big tech companies to hopeful start-ups, I saw the same three problems. And perhaps surprisingly, these issues also seem to resonate at home.

First, people were frustrated that they didn't feel like they could make decisions and act. They often felt stymied into inaction, waiting for approval. At work, this often reflected the degree of trust between themselves and their manager. If their manager fully trusted them, they tended to feel more empowered to act. But in complex organizations, with multiple functions, counterparts, levels, and geographies, managers rarely had the authority to fully delegate decision making—to the extent you'd probably want it.

In situations like these, it's easy to check out and resign yourself to the idea that making an impact is impossible. In this book, I'll show you how to develop an 'empowered mindset' instead, so that when this feeling crops up, you can leverage the resources around you and find a strategy that will work. We'll define what the team leaders need to do to be more empowering, and what the team members need to do to be more empowerable. It is through fine-tuning this empowered relationship that we can build a level of trust that provides people with the fuel to take action and drive decisions. People have the very same issue in their personal lives, whether it's between two lifelong partners or with their kids, parents, or friends and relatives.

The second problem involves conflicts arising from trying to agree on the right decision. Where should we go on vacation this year? Should we invest in that remodel? Are we saving enough, or spending too much? And at work, consider the conflicting priorities of multiple teams and functions, all with their own sets of priorities. Sure, let's hope the organization has a viable strategy and vision that helps align people, but everything is changing at such a fast pace. It's like playing three-dimensional chess. What is the right thing? But as teams, and teams of teams, people need to figure out individually and collectively what's the right thing to do, often in the moment.

To address this dilemma, I'll teach you to develop an alignment mindset so that people are more likely to focus on the right decisions and actions. This requires us to think more broadly—beyond our immediate manager, department, or direct report—to how many different teams we are on. Considering and leveraging the many teams we interact with and depend on, and who may depend on us, either at home or at work, will ensure that our conversations will become more constructive and beneficial for everyone.

The third problem deals with the ongoing dilemma of working with others. Wouldn't life be so much easier if we simply didn't need to deal with conflicting goals, perspectives, and personalities? Sometimes you want to scream! But go ahead; maybe they aren't really listening anyway. A person could get cynical. Think of the challenges you've faced when trying to work out the details of that dream vacation, or working with your team to figure out an innovative solution to that problem that won't go away. Some people get hyper passionate; some seem to say, "Whatever." And just when you're about to get the breakthrough, people give up, or they just get louder. There is a better way. And it works.

The solution to this third problem is developing a collaboration mindset. This mindset enables us to partner far more effectively with others to achieve goals, instead of seeing people as obstacles. How do we embrace the natural tension that occurs during a disagreement? How do we talk it out so that we can consider conflicting perspectives, yet build a foundation for resolution? I have found that these skills apply just as readily at home as they do in our organizations at work.

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