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Leadership Tips: Vol. 49

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Trust your people’s instincts to avoid hamstringing them. David Brennan, CEO of drug firm AstraZeneca, lets sales managers in far-flung markets tweak marketing plans to suit local conditions. “We don’t hand money to our Chinese team and force them to do what worked in Brazil,” he says.

— Adapted from “The unrepentant salesman,” The Economist.

Tap new ideas with a “hack day,” where you allow customers to help you innovate. Example: Last.fm, the online music service now owned by CBS, recently invited its users to east London for a day of free food, drink and a chance to develop a new application for Last.fm. The winner walked away with a $1,500 prize. Benefit: It doesn’t cost much, but the payoff can be huge.

— Adapted from “‘Hack days’ bring access to creative flair,” Tim Bradshaw, Financial Times.

Get more from people by clarifying expectations, says Greg Rittler of Kanon Clarity (www.kanonclarity.com). Ambiguity kills. Are you making it clear what you expect? Here’s a test: “Talk to three people you lead and ask them exactly what they think you expect of them,” says Rittler. “You may be alarmed at what they share with you. Don’t be defensive. Just listen. What you learn will probably be some of the best feedback you could get from people.”

Rely on your team when times are tough, rather than calling the shots and executing all the plays yourself. Example: During Jorma Ollila’s tenure as CEO of Nokia, he encouraged newly hired leaders to travel to forge personal relationships with the people whose success would affect the company’s overall performance. Doing so ensured that his top players heard diverse points of view and experiences, which meant he gained access to new voices and ideas outside his sphere.

— Adapted from “Unconventional Wisdom in a Downturn,” Tamara J. Erickson, HBR.org.

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