Order lunch, not the workers

There is a management school that says that if you want an employee to do something, you order him to do it.

Make it clear and concise.

Set expectations and tell them to meet them.

Now, there is merit in this. In a workplace, you must say what you need from your people.

In fact, you can “order” them to do so.

But this is where many leaders find themselves trapped.

They think that because they are the boss, they say it right there on their business card! – that they can command people to work hard and innovate.

Telling people what to do is like a magic trick. It seems simpler than it is, and the real work happens behind the scenes.

If you skip all of that, you will run into trouble.

Your motivated employees with the right attitude will do their best.

Or should I say, they will do their best to do their best.

But this management style doesn’t work without trust, even if your employees want it to.

Unless you put in the time beforehand, your people won’t follow your orders for anything more complex than working with a copier.

You might think I’m exaggerating.

Or you could think of counterexamples, like the military. If you refuse to follow orders, you will end up in a court of the “martial” variety.

Except anyone with military experience will tell you that’s silly. He is a terrible officer who relies on his rank to lead his people.

I remember a story that I heard. On the inside door of an officer’s dining room, say something like, “If you lost your rank by walking through this door, would your people still follow you?”

The military loves a strict hierarchy.

These are life and death situations in a split second.

Still, the best military men emphasize the importance of leadership. Do you want your people to follow you to the edge? You can’t just ask for it and hope for the best.

It may be a lot safer, but the corporate workplace is exactly the same.

People want to be innovative, inspired and productive.

But they need help to get there.

Who knows why, but bad leadership makes us shut down the parts of ourselves that we need the most.

Great leadership invites us to be the best of ourselves.

If you want your employees to give you their best work, then you are not alone there.

But if you take the time to build a relationship with them … well, you’ll be a minority.

The top tier of leaders who always seem to get the best out of their people.

This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get sucked into the minutiae of your day.

And once you hit those high ranks where people below you have people below, it can be difficult to cultivate all those relationships.

But if it was easy, everyone would do it.