For the past several months, The New York Times has been running interviews on
The best one in the series so far is the interview with Dave Novak, CEO of Yum Brands.
I’d like to share six thoughts from Dave Novak on how to be a great leader, along with my take on how to follow through on those thoughts.
1. “If you have someone who’s smart, talented, aggressive and wants to learn, then your job is to help them become all they can be.” My take: When you think back on your own development as a leader, you probably grew the most through big stretch assignments that took you out of your comfort zone. Look for and create opportunities for your best people to be even better by asking them to lead initiatives or fix important things that are broken.
2. “The best leaders are really pattern thinkers.” My take: Build your capacity for seeing the big picture by doing three things: (1) Get into the habit of regularly asking yourself, “What are we really trying to do here?” (2) Question your assumptions; and (3) Read outside your area of responsibility or expertise and look for insights that can be applied.
3. “If you’re the leader, you’ve got to provide the coaching.” My take: Coaching is about asking questions, not giving answers. Accelerate the development of your best people by asking questions like, “What did you learn from this?” Help them process the lessons they can learn from experience and determine how to apply those lessons.
4. “Make sure you’re focusing on action versus activity.” My take: Think about the outcomes you’re trying to create over the course of the year and then reverse engineer back from that to determine the actions most likely to lead to the results you want. Share this approach with your team and coach them to continually assess whether they’re involved in actions or activities.
5. “You care enough to give them direct feedback.” My take: As Novak suggests in his interview and Ken Blanchard recommends in The One Minute Manager, start your feedback with what they’re doing that you appreciate. Tell them what the positive impact is of their action. Then connect your developmental feedback to how it will help both them and the organization.
6. “When you’re the leader, people want to see you.” My take: The larger the leadership role, the more demands there are on your time. I encourage leaders to think about their communication and visibility strategies as both retail and wholesale opportunities. Retail visibility is in person and usually one-on-one or in small groups. Wholesale visibility makes use of large group meetings and technology (e.g., web conferencing, video and teleconferencing, blogging, Twitter, etc.) to consistently get key messages out and maintain dialogue with a broader audience.
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