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What employees wish they could tell you

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in Best-Practices Leadership

What do your people wish they could tell the person at the top, if only they had the courage?

1. You’re a horrible leader. You may not be a Lincoln or a Churchill, but if you work really hard, you could become a great leader in your own right.

All the great leaders were originals. ­Although many were amateur historians, they didn’t become the people they were by copying behaviors from people in the past. They became great by finding a way to serve people in their time, and in the process, became leaders.

2. You put a new thing on my ‘to do’ list. What are you taking off?

In the darkest days of the U.S. automotive industry, a major subcontractor to the Big Three held its managers accountable for more than 100 metrics. How do you extricate from that excess?

Leadership guru Peter Drucker spoke of “purposeful abandonment”—determining which activities will be stopped—while author David Allen measures a person’s success by looking at the length of his or her “stop-doing list.”

Leaders should know that followers measure them, in part, by how many metrics and initiatives they purposefully abandon. In most cases, that’s zero.

3. Stop blaming us. You don’t build loyalty by blaming employees. Some CEOs attempt to form a tight relationship with certain executives by bad-mouthing others.

What does that sound like to the chosen few? “The minute you’re out of favor, I’ll do the same to you.”

4. You never listen to us.

When Anne Mulcahy became president and COO of Xerox, her job came down to listening—to customers, suppliers and employees.

To come up with strategy, she combined everything they said with everything she knew and with what experts advised.

The result from that lengthy process was a clear, concise strategy that made people at Xerox chime in with, “Yes, that’s exactly right!”

If your company doesn’t have that sort of strategy, the problem is that you haven’t been listening hard enough.

— Adapted from “7 Things We All Wish We Could Tell the Boss,” Dave Logan, BNET.

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