Unleashing Employees



Vineet NayarI advocate leadership that allows employees to contribute, create, and grow. I have several articles on this blog detailing the costs of micro-management and the benefits of treating employees as adults (click here to read them). I am thrilled to see the results achieved by the $2.6 billion dollar HTC under the leadership of a CEO who clearly walks this talk, Vineet Nayar. He is interviewed in the excellent–and free!–Booz & Co. periodical strategy + business.

For example, detailed financial performance data broken out by business unit is delivered regularly to employees’ desktops. This has stimulated employees to ask more questions, volunteer more ideas, and challenge their managers more often. In turn, everyone is making better decisions — the kind of decisions that directly affect the customer’s experience.

Similarly, in a bold twist on the 360-degree employee appraisal tool, all appraisals are posted on the company’s intranet, and anyone at any level can give feedback on anybody else, including the CEO. As Nayar says, “Good or bad, we all learn from the results.”

The Thought Leader Interview:
Vineet Nayar

strategy + business



Here is my favorite quote, one that mirrors a key insight I learned the hard way some years ago: “The lesson for me was to never make assumptions about what somebody else wants or thinks. It is very important to ask people what they are thinking.”


There is more in his book, Employees First, Customers Second.



SunGard CEO practices what I preach



 Cristóbal CondeI was thrilled to read in today’s New York Times the comments of $5B SunGard’s CEO, Cristóbal Conde. He shifted his management style several years ago after reaching the limits of the very methods that had brought him near the top.

Early on, I was very command-and-control, very top-down. I felt I was smart, and that my decisions would be better. I was young, and I was willing to work 20 hours a day. But guess what? It (more…)

It pays to trust your employees



Study indicates that employees who are trusted by managers do better work and are more loyal to their employer.

Journal of Management



A Closer Look at Trust Between Managers and Subordinates: Understanding the Effects of Both Trusting and Being Trusted on Subordinate Outcomes

The authors propose that trust in the subordinate has unique consequences beyond trust in the manager. Furthermore, they propose joint effects of trust such that subordinate behavior and intentions are most favorable when there is high mutual trust. Findings reveal unique (more…)

Self-Inflicted Wounds



Dan Wertenberg

Business owners all seem to be very busy and over-worked. For most of them, the reason is that most of what they are doing is just creating more things that have to be done, instead of making the business more successful.

Want more time to relax? Stop trying to fix everything.

Dan Wertenberg
Serial CEO and Vistage Speaker



The human immune system is a wondrous mechanism. It detects and destroys invading bacteria, viruses, and debris. It is vigilant 24×7 and extends into every tiny and obscure part of our body. Our immune system is adaptable to changing threats because it learns from and emerges stronger from many infections. A fantastic model for an executive to learn from as she designs monitoring and control systems in a business.

The immune system has a flaw that may also be instructive for managers. It can (more…)

Key Skills for Entrepreneurs

A study found remarkably high rates of dyslexia among entrepreneurs, as compared with corporate managers and the general population. What I found particularly interesting was the list of traits dyslexics develop that have them become entrepreneurs more often, have multiple companies, and an above average number of employees.

The dyslexic entrepreneurs reported as good or excellent at: (more…)

Do Less & Accomplish More

Leo Tucker

The amount of work I delegate today is far greater than ever. Leaving my people alone has resulted in key increases in our business.

Hire slow, fire fast, and communicate clear expectations of results.

I have been working with Tony as my executive coach since September of 2005.

–Leo Tucker, CEO
The Washington Group

Truth or Consequences? Beyond the Punishment Model.



Truth or Consequences Screen Beans Art © A Bit Better Corporation

Integrity is usually a major conversation when I coach groups of executives. It almost always comes up in the context of arriving to the meeting on time or returning promptly from breaks.1 This leads to a discussion of consequences, by which people mean punishments for not being on time: fines, humiliation, etc. This opens a powerful examination of monitoring, enforcement, and integrity throughout the organization.



Consequences come in two flavors. Imposed consequences are punishments contrived by an authority exerting its power to compel behavior. Natural consequences are what reality delivers in response to actions. If I (more…)

Is ease of access destroying your management?

US Marine Captian Tyler Boudreau

“With such an abundance of information available simultaneously at all levels, micromanagement can creep unnoticed into the chain of command and pull it apart. For example, if a general is able to follow an ongoing firefight through email and IM, and he is inclined to believe he knows what’s best for the units in contact, then he very well might start directing those small units from afar, consequently eliminating the need for his colonels, captains, and sergeants to do any thinking of their own.

“a commander may be dismayed to find his soldiers have become too heavily reliant on headquarters for critical decisions. That’s dangerous, because sooner or later headquarters won’t be available. Equipment will break; signals will be lost; communications will go down, and almost certainly at the worst times. That’s when the commander will wish most that he had cultivated his men’s initiative rather than tamped it out through incessant electronic directives or rebukes for mistaken decisions.”

IT vs. initiative: The Internet age comes to the battlefield

former US Marine Captain Tyler Boudreau
in The Industry Standard

See also: Your greatest strength is your #1 blindspot

Your greatest strength is your #1 blind spot




I got a call from a salesman looking for my help to close a business owner. The salesman was frustrated because the owner so needed the product but was not making a decision, though he was willing to keep talking.

The business owner was tired and frantically busy as his company grew past 100 employees. He was traveling more and more, continually meeting prospective clients, reviewing active projects, and checking on employees. He was proudly a stickler for quality and involved with every detail. His company’s reputation for excellent work was a foundation of their success and growth.

My immediate response was, “Wow! He must have a terrible time retaining key employees.”

“How did you know that?” the salesman exclaimed, “He says that’s his #1 problem.”

“Of course it is. The best people (more…)

Boss’s Guide to an (Almost) Worry-free Vacation


Here’s an article I had published as the cover story of the August 1997, issue of Small Business News. My executive coaching clients still find it useful.

Small Business News August 1997

I remember when I sold my first business and got a “real job.” A “real” job is the kind with set hours, limited responsibilities, and weekends off.

Weekends off! What an alien concept. Once I got used to the idea of free time and stopped bringing “special projects” and extra reading home, I noticed something very odd. I got a whole lot more done on the Mondays after a relaxing weekend than I had after struggling with work for seven (or seventy) straight days. Abe Lincoln is said to have declared that if he had eight hours to cut down a tree, he would spend four hours sharpening his saw. Vacation is for sharpening your most important tool: yourself.



Long-term Vacation Planning:

Grow your staff

I once asked the President of a division of a public company, “How do you account for your great success at such a young age?” After a moment’s reflection, he (more…)