No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Do You Like People?

I know an executive who says, "I had the perfect job until I sold something and had a customer. Then I had to make it, so I hired some employees, and it hasn't been fun since."

We laugh, but the truth is, that guy doesn't like people. He sees them as interruptions. He thinks his real job is the processes in his business.

Is that you? Would you rather stay in your office, and keep people at arm's length with e-mail? Are you happier with your papers and computer screen and whiteboard and solitary thoughts? Do you resent phone calls and knocks on the door?

You can't lead if you don't like people. I mean that: if I just described you, you owe it to yourself to find a different job. You're probably a skilled administrator, or maybe an ace technician - nothing wrong with either of those. But people deserve leaders who pay attention to them.

Remember, leadership involves movement, leading people from where they are to somewhere different. If you only want them along because you need them to achieve your own ends, you're a user, not a leader. There's an ethical dimension here that requires you not to betray their trust, so you need to be trying to better things for them. And there's the practical matter that they'll figure out your motives pretty quickly and stop following anyway.

Good leaders laugh when they're with people, and they make people laugh. If that doesn't sound like you, think about it.

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