Wednesday, February 15, 2012

“Keep Your Hands Off the Wheel”

The concept of keeping your hands off the wheel cannot be applied when driving a vehicle, but when it’s applied to leadership, it can actually be a positive concept. It’s positive because it enables a leader to do his or her job and lead, and it empowers an employee to do his or her job and produce. When a leader gives instructions, answers questions, provides whatever coaching is necessary, and then steps back, or “keeps his or her hands off the wheel,” the employee is able to drive and do his or her job.

This important leadership rule is just one highlight in a useful leadership book entitled, “42 Rules For Your New Leadership Role: The Manual They Didn’t Hand You When You Made VP, Director, or Manager” by Pam Fox Rollin.

In the words of Judy Gilbert, the Director of People Operations at YouTube: “When making the transition to a new role, even a top performer needs to exercise a different group of muscles. Pam has distilled extensive leadership lessons into simple and actionable guidelines. With the insights from this book, you can make your next start your best ever.”

Pam’s book is full of leadership tips, but here are some of my favorites:
  • Draft your own strategic one-pager, a coherent summary of the state and trends of your industry, company, division, function, and team.
  • Create your own onboarding plan – this is so much more than just setting up a phone, smartphone, laptop, and reading the Employee Procedures manual.
  • Set realistic milestones – include the big rocks as well as the small pebbles.
  • Surround yourself with all types of people, not just those who think like you do –  your weaknesses may be their strengths, and the result will be a better functioning team.
  • Make it easy for people to work with you – tell them how often you want to be updated, how you want to be contacted, any triggers that may cause you angst, etc.
  • Determine how you will measure your own metrics – and help your team to measure their performance.
  • Make the most of screw-ups and take ownership of mistakes.
  • Organize your priorities – and deflect early requests to go off-mission.
  • Grow more leaders: champion your people and be their advocate.

While there are countless leadership books on the market, “42 Rules” is a must-read. But be warned, you will pick up the book again and again because revisiting the rules will make you a better leader. 

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