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‘Ups’ are good, but you need the ‘downs’

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

After his stint as chief logistician for the 1991 Gulf War, Army Lt. Gen. William “Gus” Pagonis became executive vice president for Sears, Roebuck & Co. He started asking questions the day he arrived, but became frustrated because no one would tell him about problems. All anybody would say was that operations were running “fine.”

Realizing that Sears couldn’t be running perfectly, Pagonis demanded that every member of his team tell him three positive things and three negative things, which Pagonis called “downs.” Even that policy required some arm-twisting on Pagonis’ part.

“People had a problem with the downs,” Pagonis said, “but when we told them that either they start providing downs themselves or we would start filling them in for them, we began to see downs listed.”

—Adapted from The Stuff of Heroes: The Eight Universal Laws of Leadership, William Cohen, Longstreet.

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