Category Archives: Efficiency

The Lazy Manager’s Way to Effectiveness

If you will not delegate for the right reasons, at least give your subordinates the assignments you do not want (and do it for all the wrong reasons).

Ya Got to Grow Buddy

Photo courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer (from .gov website)

The Right Reasons

Peter Drucker was once asked if leaders were born or made. His response: “Leaders grow, they are not made.” Drucker was absolutely right. Leadership is an organic process and your people need the opportunity to grow.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversityIn fact, your role as a manager is not to gather as many followers as possible, but to help your followers grow into leaders. You should seek to expand their capacity. Nothing expands capacity like challenging opportunities. Delegate.

The Wrong Reasons

There is also a pragmatic reason to delegate. Let’s assume you are just a lazy boss. Delegation can reduce your workload, freeing up precious time for more critical tasks like golf.

Want to cut your workload in half and gain the salutary results of effective management? Try this: Assure a subordinate that you are going to empower her. Let her know how much you trust her. Tell her that, within the parameters you have established, she has creative control over the project. Then, go play golf.

Moreover, when your boss asks you why you were on the golf course instead of working one the XYZ account, you can look him in the eye and tell him that you had to be out of the office in order to provide a meaningful leadership experience to a promising subordinate. You are, after all, interested in the company’s long-term growth.

I am only half-joking here.

A businessman once commented to Andrew Carnegie, the great American industrialist, that he must get to his office at the crack of dawn to complete his day’s work. Carnegie laughed and told him:

You must be a lazy man if it takes you ten hours to do a day’s work. What I do is to get good men, and I never give them orders. My directions seldom go beyond suggestions. Here in the morning I get reports from them. Within an hour I have disposed of everything, sent out all of my suggestions, the day’s work is done, and I am ready to go out and enjoy myself.[i]

 This is the art of delegation. A good leader assigns a task and then allows the subordinate to operate in her own way.  Stan Lee of Marvel Comics fame put it this way: “I have a theory. When you work with artists and writers, any kind of creative people, you get their best work if you let them do it the way they want to do it.”[ii]

So go and give away that difficult assignment. Tell her what needs to be done and assure her that you will not interfere. Then go play golf. It may be the best thing you’ve done as a manager.

By the way, if you are really interested in learning to lead more effectively, see my Top 10 List of Leadership Books. Read them if you care about your people. If you don’t care about your people, put them on your bookshelf to make yourself look like someone who takes leadership very seriously.  Either way, review the list.

Darin Gerdes

December 5, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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[i] Nassaw, D. (2007). Andrew Carnegie. New York: Penguin Press. p. 184.

[ii] Zakarin, S. (Director). (2002). Stan Lee’s mutants, monsters, & marvels [Motion picture]. United States: Sony Pictures/Creative Light.

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How to Boost Morale Without Spending a Fortune

In these tight economic times, would you like to know how to boost morale, increase motivation, and decrease turnover without breaking the bank?

How To Lead in Tough Times

When the economy is down and business is tough, a manager’s first tendency is to seek new ways to be efficient. Efficiency is good, but pushed too far, the human cost can outweigh the financial benefits of efficiency.

Life_vest

Perhaps you should stop trying to run a tight ship and start thinking about the welfare of the crew members.

It turns out that your people are less enamored with your business acumen (e.g. that you can move them around on a spread sheet to squeeze out another couple of bucks) than they are with your concern for them.  When they know that you will look after their best interest, you will have their loyalty.

Motivation as the Key to Efficiency

Hug Your PeopleJack Mitchell wrote a wonderful book for leaders who reject the idea that efficiency is all that counts in management. In Hug Your People: The Proven Way to Hire, Inspire, and Recognize Your Employees and Achieve Remarkable Results  he suggests the following:

Treat your Employees like Associates: No, seriously–treat your people like colleagues that deserve respect (because they do). And, don’t just talk about it. Let your actions speak for you.

Get to Know Them Professionally and Personally: Your associates will gladly support leaders who care. They will be cautious with cold-hearted managers who would kick them to the curb to save a buck.

Have Fun with Your People: You can enjoy working with your associates, and if you do, they are more likely to be more motivated.

Have Expectations and Standards, Not Rules and Regulations: Rules are stifling, but expectations breathe life without crippling motivation. Bad managers love to enforce rules. In contrast, good leaders let expectations manage people.

Know the Difference Between Employees “Working For” You vs. “Working With” You: The former is hierarchical. The latter is collegial. In the former, you check up on them to make sure they are doing their work. In the latter, you check in to see how you can help.  

Discourage Reliance on Yourself: Good leaders want their people to grow and succeed without them. They encourage decision-making because they want followers to grow. Good leaders are pleased when their people succeed (with or without them).

Would You Want To Work for Jack Mitchell?

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Who wouldn’t want to for a manager that truly cared about his people? Wouldn’t your manager get the best out of you if he treated you this way? But these are not techniques to trick employees to be motivated for the sake of efficiency. They are heart attitudes and they must run as deep as familial affection or patriotic ardor. You cannot fake concern for your people.

Mitchell summed up the core of his philosophy as follows:

Relationships are personalized–this means that people engage one another as real people rather than as job responsibilities. They get to know Ralph not as a shoe buyer but as someone who likes to go Kayaking and has eight-year-old twin girls. Michael’s not accounts receivables, but a marathoner who loves mango pudding.

When you care about your crew, you will not have to worry about running a tight ship. Take care of Ralph and Michael, and they will take care of you.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

December 3, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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What is Leadership? – Part II [Video of short lecture – 10 Minutes]

In part II, I continue to discuss the nature of leadership based on a review of the academic literature. See Part I here if you missed the introduction.

Here we discuss the following:

  • Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityRelationship
  • Emotional connection
  • Change
  • Leading by example

In the lecture I talked about a fantastic book, It’s your Ship I have linked it here.

Because he understood leadership, Captain Abrashoff  transformed one of the worst performing ships in the Navy into the best of its class. I highly recommend the book.

WARNING: As a sailor, Captian Abrashoff has a salty tongue, so the book gets a PG-13 rating. But, I recommend the book because he understood the fundamentally empowering nature of leadership. Here are a few brief passages to illustrate:

its_Your_ship

I found that the more control I gave up, the more command I got. In the beginning, people kept asking my permission to do things. Eventually, I told the crew, ‘It’s your ship. You’re responsible for it. Make a decision and see what happens.’ Hence the Benfold watchword was ‘It’s your ship.’ Every sailor felt that Benfold was his or her responsibility (p. 6).

I was determined to create a culture where everyone on board felt comfortable enough to say to me, ‘Captain, have you thought of this?’ or ‘Captain, I’m worried about something,’ or even ‘Captain, I think you’re dead wrong and here’s why.’ Yes-people are a cancer in any organization, and dangerous to boot (p. 89).

How much more effective would our organizations be if all leaders thought like this?  Have you ever worked for someone like Captain Abrashoff?

Darin Gerdes

December 2, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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What is Leadership? – Part I [Video of short lecture – 5 Minutes]

This is part one of a two-part introduction to my discussion of the nature of leadership in my MBA Classes at Charleston Southern University.

In this video, I provide an overview of the core elements of leadership according to the academic literature.

Then I briefly discuss:

  • Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityVision,
  • Influence
  • motivation

Want More? Watch Part II of What Is Leadership? Part II will be the best 10 minutes you spend today, or your money back (actually, that is not much of a claim since it is free, but I stand behind my content).

invisible-employeeThe Wayne Gretsky story comes from Adrian Gostick’s book, The Invisible Employee.   At the time of this writing,  used copies are selling on Amazon for as little as a penny.

His other books are linked below on the Amazon page. I would recommend that you read everything Gostick writes.

 

Darin Gerdes

December 1, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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The More You Know, The More You See.

What do you see in the pictures below?

If you are like most people, you see two men. If you are like most Americans, you probably see Middle-Easterners, but you may not be able to tell much more than that.  In Brotherhood of Warriors, Aaron Cohen, a former Israeli Special Forces counter-terrorism solder explained what he sees. He wrote:

There are different types of dress in various parts of the [Palestinian] territories. The red-and-white keffiyehs are dominant in some parts, black-and-white or green-and-white in still others. Red-and-white means the neighborhood supports Hamas; black-and-white means it supports Fatah; green-and-white, which can be seen much less frequently, means Hezbollah. We would know in advance which areas we’d be going into on a mission, and if the color of our keffiyehs wasn’t correct, we’d have gotten [expletive deleted] up quick (p. 148).

The point of this article is that the more you know, the more you see. Aaron Cohen saw enough to avoid danger.  Where we sees keffiyehs, he saw the equivalent of Palestinian gang colors.

By the way, a FBI agent sees something else. He would see Khalid Ibn Muhammad Al-Juhani (left) and Muhammad Sa’id Ali Hasan (right). The are both wanted by the FBI.

Example #2

What do you see here?

This time, you see an X-ray of a human body. Do you see a 70 Year old? Do you see the prostate cancer? How about the  hypercalcemia and diffuse osteoblastic bone metastases? Follow the arrows. Still don’t see it? Your doctor sees it.

The more you know, the more you see.

Example #3

Read the list below:

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.

We all see this as a list of 10 items. Some will realize that it is a political agenda. Closer inspection will reveal that we have already accomplished #2 and #10 and we are actively working on #3, #5,  and #7.

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The political scientist or well-trained economist (or perhaps a sharp history teacher) will realize that this is directly from the end of Chapter 2 of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

Again, the more you know, the more you see. It works the same way in any field–the military, medicine, politics, or business.

Example #4

Sam Wyly was a serial entrepreneur who founded University Computing Company (UCC), owned Bonanza Steakhouse, bought Michael’s Arts and Crafts, and co-founded  Maverick Capital.

In his book, 1000 Dollars and an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire Sam Wyly  recounts the story of a skeptic who questioned how he could have made a 199% return on an investment. He wrote:

I answered, “I read a lot.” The questioner laughed. But I wasn’t joking. It’s true. I do read all the time. What I’m trying to say is that having good timing is a result of paying attention to the ideas and trends floating around out there, studying them, coming to some intellectual conclusions, and then, ultimately, listening to your own gut about how to apply your conclusions to the business ventures you elect to pursue (p. 224).

There is a reason that Warren Buffett is one of the richest men on earth. He is currently #3 on the Forbes list.

Buffett  famously quipped: “Some men read Playboy. I read annual reports.”

What Sets Some People Apart From Others?

There is no mystery or magic here. Insight comes from investigation. What do you need to see? What are you doing to learn about the subject?

Darin Gerdes

November 30, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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Thank You, Zig…See You at the Top (The Legacy of Zig Zigler)

On November 29, 2012, Zig Zigler drew his last breath.

Zig Zigler was one of the early “motivational speakers.” A prolific writer, he helped to create an industry as the self-help category blossomed in the late 1970s and 1980s. He touched the lives of millions, offering hope thorough his personal experience and optimistic outlook. In his down-home, folksy way, Zig imparted confidence to millions.

You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down

He wrote numerous books, a number of which sit on my bookshelves today. Two weeks ago I finished a particularly touching book (one of his last), entitled Embrace the Struggle. In it,  Zig talks about persevering through difficulty.

This was not academic for Zig. He had recently fallen down the stairs and hit his head, impairing his short term memory. As an author and keynote speaker, this posed a significant challenge. Yet, Zig adjusted and turned his struggles to motivational gold as he embracing the promise of Romans 8:28  which he discussed at length in the book: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityZig was a strong Christian. His faith permeated his books. His optimistic outlook was grounded in a belief that God has a plan and purpose for each person. Perhaps this was what made him such a powerful motivational speaker. We will all miss him. Keep the red-head in your prayers (if you have read any of his books, you  know who I am talking about).

I am sure that he is smiling down from Heaven as you read this.

Thank you, Zig.

Zig’s Legacy

Below I have listed all of Zig’s Books on Amazon (Wikipedia only had 12 listed at the time of this writing). If you like what you saw in the video clips, pick up any of his books. You will be glad you did.

Darin Gerdes

November 29, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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How to Gain Good Will While Increasing your Business Revenues

Sometimes businesses do stupid things. Sometimes they are incredibly smart. This article is about the incredibly smart business decision that will gain good-will and increase revenue.

Texas Roadhouse has been a serial supporter of one of my favorite Charities, Christy’s Legacy of Hope.  The Charity was named for Christy DePriest Wright, one of my former students at Liberty University.

Christy earned her business degree in order to more effectively meet the needs of orphaned Children in China. She had worked in orphanages short-term, and she planned to go back to China full-time, but she was struck down with a rare form of cancer in 2010.

Her family incorporated a 501(C)3 to carry on her work.

Texas Roadhouse has been a great help from the start. I recall a fundraiser in 2010 at a local restaurant (to defray medical expenses for her illness) and Texas Roadhouse has come through again.

Christy’s Legacy Card

Christy’s Legacy Card

Gift Cards have become trendy holiday gifts. Most gift cards exchange equal value (e.g. $50 dollars in exchange for $50 dollars of value on the gift card). Some offer a slight discount.  This one gives 10% of the proceeds to Christy’s Legacy of Hope to provide for the needs of orphaned children in China.  Additionally, the customer who uses this card will get a free Baby Blossom with the purchase of a entrée for an entire year.

Sounds Like an Expensive Proposition for Texas Roadhouse

Is Texas Roadhouse losing money? They are giving away a lot of free food and foregoing 10% right off the top. It seems like they are leaving a lot on the table, but I would bet they will make it back in free publicity, new customers, and return trips.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversityFor example, I am pretty sure that I would not have written this article for the sake of maximizing the profits of Texas Roadhouse. But because they are contributing to a great cause, I am contributing my time to write about it. And now you know about it. It is a virtuous cycle and you can join in. Buy a gift card, pass this along to a friend, and keep the cycle going. Tweet about it.

Here is the short link: http://wp.me/pYT7Z-bU

The Lesson

Texas Roadhouse created value by contributing to a good cause (creating good will) which will increase their revenues (increased traffic and free marketing from people like me) leading to further good will and increased traffic.

What can your company do to create such a virtuous cycle?

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

November 23, 2012

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University

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Note: The gift card will be available until Christmas 2012. The 10% donation will continue to stream until Christmas of 2013

The FREE BABY BLOSSOM IS ONLY VALID AT TAYLOR LOCATION (14660 PARDEE ROAD TAYLOR, MI  48180)

Contact Jessica Ericson of Texas Roadhouse at (734) 788-1410 or TaylorTexRoad@gmail.com.

A $0.40 fee will be applied for shipment of the card.

Thank you to TEXAS ROADHOUSE.

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