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This chapter is from the book

Houston, We Have a Solution

In this small but insightful book, we will describe and advocate seven essential changes that you can make in your style of managing that will transform you into a powerful leader. Managers who have made these seven essential changes have noticed that their employees quickly lost their fears about raising thorny issues and "rocking the boat." Organizational members gained confidence in their abilities to confront problems and resolve them. The managers were pleasantly surprised to find that employees were able to streamline their work, reduce costs, and make their work more enjoyable. In addition, they discovered that they had more time and energy to do their work. The managers were on the path to powerful leadership.

Now, we'll provide an overview of the seven essential changes that will help you to become a powerful leader. These seven essential changes free you to do your own work better, with fewer complications and with more personal satisfaction.

The First Essential Change frees your immediate reports—employees—from every unnecessary rule, process, procedure, and constraint that prohibits them from making changes in their own work to improve the efficiency of the workplace. We just talked to a manager at one of the top three computer companies in America. He said that workers sometimes refer to coming to work as "day prison." This perception is prevalent in hundreds of organizations throughout the world and needs to be changed as quickly as possible.

Rene McPherson, CEO of Dana Corporation, pared down its bureaucracy by cutting 350 people from the corporate staff of 500 and replaced a 17-inch set of standard operating procedures with a slim, concise policy statement. He stopped over 400 pages of management reports each month and prohibited managers from sending memos to their subordinates so that they had to meet face to face, and he removed all time clocks from the premises. He said that he didn't believe in corporate procedures because they were counterproductive and restricted the flexibility of people to cope with the unpredictable.

Managers tend to overmanage their employees. This practice creates more work for the manager and imposes severe constraints on workers. Overmanaging means that you are not allowing your employees to take the lead. You can free yourself up by freeing up your employees.

The Second Essential Change helps employees engage in more creative thinking and carry out more innovative actions. Most top executives realize that innovation is the key to survival. Making unique, interesting, exciting, and profitable changes is what keeps a company competitive. Unfortunately, few managers are taught how to release their own great creative potential and lead employees to experiment with innovations. Getting employees to examine their own work creatively and innovatively places the emphasis where it belongs. Harold Geneen, ITT's exceptionally successful CEO for many years, says that good ideas are hard to come by and "I always felt that as chief executive, it was incumbent upon me to welcome and foster creative thinking." Most top managers say that the most wasteful time you can spend is trying to get employees to do things well that shouldn't be done at all.

The Third Essential Change switches your relationship with employees from that of "boss" to that of cohort. The simplest truism in the world of leadership is that it is a lot easier to lead a friend than an enemy! And much less complicated. Roberto Goizueta, the CEO of Coca Cola, feels that to get people to do their best, you have to know them; bosses should not be regarded as gods, because they aren't. He described his management style with the acronym of CIO—coordinator, integrator, orchestrator. Goizueta, like so many very effective executives, spends much time coaching, teaching, counseling, and developing management talent, realizing that this talent is Coca Cola's greatest asset.

John Stollenwerk, president of Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corporation, never uses the term employee. He says he works at the plant just like anybody else. There are no reserved parking places for Allen-Edmonds workers, including the president, who had to park a great distance from the main door of the plant because he was late getting to work.

The Fourth Essential Change shifts managers' focus from delegating and trying to motivate people to the more powerful concept of "involvement" by mastering an energizing and dynamic approach that we call the 4E's of Involvement: envisioning, enabling, energizing, and ensuring results. As chairman and CEO of 3M, Allan Jacobson says that managers shouldn't be too narrow in their focus. They should "get other people active in and supporting your plans in order to make them real." You have to have a lot of people doing the right thing to get the job done.

When you have tried a thousand ways to motivate and reward people and you find out that people really aren't increasing their productivity in any significant way, you may want to alter your management style to incorporate the more natural 4E's approach for involving people.

The Fifth Essential Change helps managers avoid criticism and reprimands and moves them to the almost magical approach of applause and redirection. Criticism is absolutely useless in the workplace and reprimands have always been associated with punishment. Applauding and redirecting is definitely more useful and less harmful to employees. Robert Haas, CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, explains that his job is to create an environment for employees in which they feel that they can contribute, that their ideas are heard, that their opinions are taken into account when decisions affecting them are made, and that they understand the importance of their contributions to business success. Haas emphasizes listening rather than telling, and this listening should be accompanied by a relentless curiosity directed toward making things better. Being critical of others is totally antithetical to powerful leadership.

When Robert Kirby was CEO of Westinghouse Electric Corporation, he reflected on the old style of management and observed that a few years ago, a manager would fire you on the spot if you told him or her you had lost five million dollars. Then, the next time you made an error, you wouldn't go and tell the manager. That's no way to run a company. When people came to Kirby with bad news, it was his job to help them out, not ship them out. The manager should be the repository for bad news rather than the employees' worst critic. The Sixth Essential Change insists that managers take the high road in making decisions. Taking the high road is the simplest way to restore trust and good will between the manager and workers and among the workers themselves. And, of course, save the company from a pile of legal troubles and lawsuits. Robert Haas of Levi Strauss does not do business in countries with lists of human rights violations. He has an unprecedented affirmative action policy and an outstanding employee benefits package that supports his "high road" approach to employees. As CEO of Phillips Petroleum, Pete Silas imbued the company with the spirit of volunteerism, encouraging employees to be involved in community activities and permitting workers to take time off from work to participate. He considers involvement in local communities to be a corporate responsibility. Taking the high road in both personal and workplace decisions is critical to exercising powerful leadership.

The Seventh Essential Change places managers on the peaceful path. A powerful leader has a willingness to confront adversity and the ability to deal with it calmly. Powerful leaders strengthen themselves so that they don't become fatigued and overwhelmed while trying to be effective. Walter Williams, CEO of Rubbermaid, says that being physically fit pays off for a manager's mindset. If you stay in good shape, you are going to be healthier, more astute, and more tuned in. Kay Koplovitz, CEO of USA Network, is an avid camper and hiker and prefers to spend her off-hours in the wilderness. She feels that when you get away from what you do every day, you come back much more relaxed. As CEO of Westinghouse, Paul Lego engaged in a number of practices to ensure time for himself to strengthen his mental and physical well-being. For example, he rose at 4:45 a.m. and ran every other day. He got a lot of ideas as he ran and actually had time to think them through. While John Hall was CEO of Ashland Oil, he maintained a robustness by speed walking, weightlifting, and golfing—mostly playing golf. He set a less hectic pace than other CEOs and encouraged employees to have a more balanced family life. Making this essential change is really the key to personal survival and peace of mind, both at work and in daily living.

Managers who are willing to make these seven small changes in their management style can significantly improve employee performance and morale, and at the same time uncomplicate their own lives as managers. In fact, we always chuckle a little when managers report that by implementing these seven essentials, they have eliminated most of their "brilliant management failures!" Allen Jacobsen, CEO of 3M Corporation, says that 3M looks for people who have a fairly good balance between work, family, and community. In addition, he feels that his father's statement, "Provide your own leadership," is sound advice.

Powerful leaders regularly implement these seven essential changes. You too can increase your influence as a powerful leader by following their example.

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