As Dr. Seuss once famously noted, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
And buried—not so deep—in the pages of his books are some of the simple answers, wisdom and advice that could help you become a better manager and leader:
“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant.”
-Horton Hatches the Egg
Be honest and straight with your employees. Insincere praise, doublespeak and mixed messages will only serve to alienate you from your staff. Outright lies will topple you.
“A person’s a person no matter how small.”
-Horton Hears a Who
Do you light up and spew your finest pleasantries when the CEO walks by? Do you just nod to the receptionist? Ignore the maintenance person? Yes? You’re a phony.
“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”
-I Can Read With My Eyes Shut
Be aware of what’s going on around you. Are employees doing good work that’s going unnoticed and unrewarded? Are you blind to the slackers, underperformers and cheaters? When you’re not paying attention, employees’ efforts will dwindle. Don’t get too busy or too pompous to connect with staff.
“I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”
-Yertle the Turtle
Get off your throne. There is nothing more fatal to a leader than constantly reminding his or her employees who the boss is. More often than not, workers need to see examples of your leadership, not just hear words and see you beat on your chest.
“When a fox is in the bottle where the tweetle beetles battle
with their paddles in a puddle on a noodle-eating poodle,
THIS is what they call ...”
-Fox in Socks
More clarity, please. Employees don’t need gobbledygook directives and jargon-filled speeches. Take the time to explain what you need and what you expect. Simplicity may just win out in the end.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
You set the tone. Employees look to you for enthusiasm, dedication and alacrity toward the work and the organization. Your feigned effort can’t be hidden for long. Employees will soon detect your half-hearted investment and then follow suit.
“Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea!
-How the Grinch Stole Christmas
As tempting as it might be, never scheme against your employees. Keep everything in the open.
“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.”
-One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Do you smile enough? Do you laugh with—and not at—your employees? A little fun goes a long way in every workplace. Lead the way.
“You must not hop on pop.”
-Hop on Pop
You’re the boss, and part of your job is to enforce rules. Just do it fairly.
Cal Butera is the editor of Business Management Daily’s Office Manager Today, Manager’s Legal Bulletin, Managing People at Work and Communication Briefings newsletters. He has been with Business Management Daily since 2007 and worked 22 years for midsize daily newspapers as sports writer, news reporter, layout and design editor, copy editor and city editor.