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Teach how you think

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

John Griffin, a successful investor, recently donated $22 million to the University of Virginia so that the school could construct a new building. Yet it won't carry Griffin's name; he prefers that the school name the building after his mentor, Julian Robertson Jr.

Griffin, who used to work for Robertson, told The Wall Street Journal, "He was very open with everybody who worked [for him] in terms of how he made decisions. The everlasting thing is, he was such a good teacher."

A manager's ability to explain how he or she makes decisions can prove an invaluable learning tool. Employees who can trace a leader's thought process get a head start in developing their analytic skills so that they follow a similar sequential approach when they confront business problems.

To train people to think with more precision, show them how you arrive at decisions. Discuss what data you value most—and how you prioritize and digest information.

Say you're brainstorming with your staff on how to respond to a competitor's new product promotion. It's clearly an attempt to grab market share, and your firm must fight back without spending too much money.

You tell your troops, "In weighing what to do, it's important that we're driven by three goals: maintaining our strict cost controls, accelerating the launch of our own promotions and differentiating ourselves to our most coveted customers."

By defining the parameters that govern how everyone must think through the issue, you teach by example. They will measure their ideas and contributions through the prism of your three goals.

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