Getting the steps right is proving brutally hard, even if you know them.
Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto
This week, I am presenting synopses of Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath and Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization, both to law enforcement professionals. (And my colleague Karl Krayer is presenting another book on communication at the same gathering).
Because, these professionals, like so many others in practically every arena, deal with these two problems:
#1 – how to build, and maintain, effective teams.
#2 – how to communicate, clearly and effectively, to everyone on the team (and to those outside the team).
The more I speak, the more I listen, the more I “consult,” the more I realize this challenge. It is not a new challenge, it is not a modern challenge. It is an old challenge.
We don’t get the basics right.
Team building, communication – these are basics. And after countless books and training seminars on both, we still have unclear communication and ineffective, dysfunctional teams.
My counsel to you – keep working on both of these. Pay attention to your team members. Pay careful attention to your spoken and written communications. Do you listen, and encourage, and include, and support each one of your team members? Are your e-mails clear – do you put your sentences together effectively? Do you speak clearly?
Build Teams. Communicate clearly and effectively. These are two of the basics we just have to get right.
Tribal Leaders are talent magnets, with people so eager to work for the leader that they will take a pay cut if necessary.
Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright
Ok, I’m ready to give the biggest and most important career advice I have ever given. If you don’t own your own company, and you ever change jobs again, follow this advice. There is nothing else this important.
Choose your boss well.
That’s it. Because your boss means everything. The wrong boss can be a disaster. The right boss can shape your career for the better for the rest of your life.
So, what do you look for in a boss? Mainly, you look for the qualities you want to learn and emulate when you will move up to your next position as the “boss.” Here are some qualities to look for:
1. Choose a good teacher. If the boss wants to develop the talent of those who report to hem/her, then the boss needs to be a good, effective teacher. So, choose a boss who has much to teach you, and, knows how to teach you – is good at teaching. This is important because you have much to learn, and someday you will have much to teach, and people to teach it to.
2. Choose a good “carer.” (“Carer” is probably not a word, but the idea is clear — choose a boss who cares for people – genuinely, deeply. Because after all, a boss leads real people, and the ability to care for each person is really critical. You need to develop this trait. And it helps to learn from someone who is good at it.
3. Choose a good team leader. If a boss is good at building a team, then the future will be a lot better. You need to be part of a team with a good leader, so that later you can be a good team leader yourself.
These are just a few of the traits to look for in your next boss. There are probably a few more just as important as these, like: choose an ethical boss; choose a boss who cultivates an environment of fun; choose a boss who is a good coach as well as teacher… You can add to this list.
But this I know for sure – choosing your boss well is really important.