Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
APTITUDES AND ATTITUDES D'UN ENTREPRENEUR
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

APTITUDES AND ATTITUDES D'UN ENTREPRENEUR

2,216
views

Published on

Published in: Business

0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
2,216
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
42
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. Capabilities and Competencies Needed for An Entrepreneur<br /> SUBJECT * MERGEFORMAT <br />BACHELOR IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP<br />ACADEMIC YEAR<br />2011<br />Alain A. Ndedi<br /> <br />Copyright Reserved ©<br />Douala Entrepreneurship Centre/Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship-June 2011<br />TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />ITEMS PAGE <br />Traits de personnalité, et caractéristiques des Entrepreneurs3<br />AA Ndedi<br />Les Qualités essentielles d'un entrepreneur qui réussi4<br />AA Ndedi<br />How to Build your confidence6<br />Amy Gallo<br />Where Will You Be in Five Years?9<br />Amy Gallo<br />Managing Yourself: Extreme Productivity12<br />Robert C. Pozen<br />The Big Idea: The Wise Leader15<br />Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi<br />Be an Optimist Without Being a Fool16<br />Heidi Grant Halvorson<br />How Will You Measure Your Life?18<br />Clayton M. Christensen<br />Nine Things Successful People Do Differently20<br />Heidi Grant Halvorson<br />Lessons for Social Entrepreneurs from the Microfinance Crisis22<br />Are you sowing the seeds of your own ignominious end?<br />Melba J. Duncan<br />Every Manager Is a Risk Manager25<br />AA Ndedi<br />How to Get Involved Without Micromanaging People27<br />Linda Hill and Kent Lineback<br />Traits de personnalité, et caractéristiques des Entrepreneurs<br />AA Ndedi<br />Vous voulez devenir un Entrepreneur? Quels sont les traits de personnalité, les caractéristiques des entrepreneurs qui réussissent, qui connaissent le succès. Possédez-vous ces traits de personnalité ou ces caractéristiques? Les entrepreneurs ne proviennent pas tous du même moule, ils ne se ressemblent pas, mais ceux qui connaissent le succès ont quelques points communs. Tout le monde, ne connait pas le succès malheureusement. Seulement 4% de toutes les nouvelles compagnies formées survivra au moins 10 ans. <br />Si vous voulez faire plus que survivre et devenir un grand entrepreneur, vous devez vous concentrer sur quelques points essentiels:<br />Ne jamais s'arrêter d'apprendre. Personne ne peut tout connaitre sur la façon de faire tourner une entreprise. Si vous croyez que votre entreprise peut être la même dans cinq ans que ce qu'elle est aujourd'hui, vous ferez partie des 96% qui ne survivront pas. <br />N'hésitez pas à demander conseil. Essayer de réinventer la roue sans arrêt est une façon de consommer du temps. Pas de doute que vous ne trouverez pas de réponse à tous les problèmes par vous-même. Mais pensez à tout ce que vous auriez pu accomplir dans le même temps si vous aviez demandé conseil à quelqu'un qui avait déjà la réponse. <br />Ne jamais renoncer <br />Concentrez-vous sur le marketing. Beaucoup d'entrepreneurs n'ont jamais été formé au marketing, mais si vous voulez connaitre le succès il va falloir vous y intéresser et apprendre cette matière. <br />Test et mesure. Quoi que vous fassiez dans n'importe quel aspect de vos affaires; vous pouvez être sûr d'une chose : il y a une meilleure manière de la faire, vous ne l'avez juste pas encore trouvée. Le succès dans les affaires exige de tester de nombreux concepts et de mesurer les résultats afin d'établir ce qui fonctionne et ce qui ne fonctionne pas.<br />Le Système d’Orientation. Ne prenez pas que votre entreprise comme un groupe de gens mais comme un système dirigé par un groupe de gens. <br />Indépendance. Même si la plupart des entrepreneurs savent travailler en groupe et reconnaissent les vertus du travail collectif, ils ont plaisir à être leur propre patron. Par ailleurs, on est en général seul au moment de prendre des décisions. <br />Orientation vers un but <br />Esprit de compétition <br />Confiance en soi. Les entrepreneurs doivent avoir une très grande confiance en eux même afin de faire face aux risques de leurs actions.<br />Intégrité <br />Curiosité <br />Créativité, innovation, visionnaire <br />Capacité à discerner un besoin et de rapidement le satisfaire. <br />Capacité à résoudre des problèmes <br />Capacité à prendre les bonnes décisions. <br />Discipline: Les entrepreneurs qui réussissent savent se concentrer sur ce qui est important et résister à la tentation de faire ce qui est sans importance ou le plus facile. <br />Capacité à accepter le changement. <br />Chance <br />Si vous avez plusieurs ou tous ces traits, vos chances de succès en tant que patron semblent bonnes! <br />Si vous êtes ambitieux, et rêvez de participer à l'aventure entrepreneuriale, prenez le temps de lire le handout que vous avez reçu. <br />Les Qualités essentielles d'un entrepreneur qui réussi <br />AA Ndedi<br />Vous souhaitez créer une entreprise, mais vous ne savez pas ce que ça suppose qu’être un entrepreneur; ou hésitez encore à vous y mettre. Avez-vous encore des doutes sur vos capacités. Ou mieux vous y êtes déjà- mais avec quelques difficultés- c’est normal. Mais qui boostera cet esprit entrepreneur latent en vous? Qui le réveillera s’il continue de dormir ? Vous aussi vous pouvez vous y mettre et devenir un entrepreneur. Commençons alors par examiner ce qu’est un entrepreneur.<br />L’entrepreneur est cette personne qui organise, prend et assume le risque de créer une affaire. Ce n’est pas ce que tout le monde croit. Mais je crois qu’être un entrepreneur, c’est avoir cet état d’esprit communément désigné sous le vocable « Esprit entrepreneurial ». C’est ce que vous réveillerez si vous voulez réveiller l’entrepreneur qui sommeille en vous <br />L’esprit entrepreneurial. <br />Peut-être que vous avez eu à cohabiter avec des entrepreneurs ou que vous êtes un entrepreneur vous-même et avez des collègues. Il y a toujours cet état d’esprit, cette disposition présente chez ceux que vous considérez effectivement comme de vrais entrepreneurs. Ils ont certaines caractéristiques qui leur sont communes et qui constituent l’essence d’un entrepreneur. L’entrepreneur est: <br />un homme confiant <br />celui qui sait prendre des risques <br />positif <br />opiniâtre <br />engagé <br />pragmatique <br />toujours orienté vers les solutions <br />un vrai dépisteur de solution <br />autonome <br />discipliné <br />persuasif <br />La liste des caractéristiques n’est certes pas exhaustive. Vous pouvez la compléter en observant les entrepreneurs les plus en vue de votre ville, de votre région ou de votre pays. Si vous êtes un entrepreneur, vous décèlerez également des caractéristiques ou des traits particuliers qui ont été à la base de votre succès ou qui vous ont manqué dans vos échecs. Prenez une feuille et un crayon, remplissez-la d’autant de caractéristiques que vous en identifierez. Travailler à améliorer les plus pertinentes pour vous. C’est vrai, tous les entrepreneurs n’ont forcément pas les mêmes caractéristiques et ce n’est pas parce que tel ou tel entrepreneur est timide et réservé qu’il ne réussira pas. Toutefois, il y a un minimum. <br />Avez-vous ce qu’il faut? <br />Démarrer une nouvelle entreprise, c’est quand même un gros risque ! Mais c’est également le meilleur moyen au monde pour devenir riche, pour se réaliser – du moins dans la plupart des pays et si on doit tenir compte de la durée de la richesse et de sa légitimité. Si vous acceptez de prendre ce risque pour avoir en retour une récompense méritée, vous devez être la bonne personne – je veux dire celle-là capable de réussir dans son entreprise. <br />Le premier prérequis c’est l’acceptation de l’échec. C’est quand même paradoxal ! Mais voyons la chose de plus près. Ecoutez, nous avons parlé de risque ; au fait celui qui prend un risque s’attend à tout et travaille à ce que se réalise ce qu’il souhaite le plus (son vœu secret). Il sait qu’il pourrait échouer, il est prêt à accepter l’échec et transforme tous les risques en défis. Dès lors il travaille à limiter les risques et dans la plupart des cas s’en sort victorieux : celui-là est un entrepreneur. Le jour où ça ne marche pas exactement comme il l’a souhaité, il sait se remettre en cause, il fait l’inventaire de ses insuffisances, de ses faiblesses. Au fait vous ne pouvez vous attendre à l’échec quand vous vous lancez dans l’aventure de l’entrepreneuriat. Mais croyez-moi, il n’existe pas d’entreprise prémunie de tout risque et tout entrepreneur prospère a dû rencontrer des dizaines d’obstacles sur son chemin. La voie du succès n’est pas une ligne droite. Maintenant, si vous ne voulez pas échouer, identifiez vos faiblesses et erreurs du passé et travaillez à les corriger. <br />Vous aurez besoin d’une base minimale en gestion. Vous me direz qu’il y a des millions d’entrepreneurs qui n’ont jamais mis pieds à l’école. Je complèterai « mais qui ont appris sur le tas ». C’est le cas de ma tante, vendeuse de pagne au marché de Mboppi, qui me confia un jour alors que j’allais me fâcher en la voyant discriminer un client: « Mon petit, on ne traite pas tous les clients de la même manière. Celui-là me fait perdre beaucoup plus de temps qu’il ne me fera gagner de l’argent. Je préfère servir ceux qui viennent passer à peine deux minutes et vident mon étalage ». Vous avez compris ! Elle applique la loi de Pareto mieux que vous et moi. Cependant ne nous leurrons pas. Elle a appris par expérience ; mais elle a dû perdre trop de temps, laissé s’échapper trop d’opportunités avant d’en arriver là. Il y a des principes que les spécialistes appellent les «basics du métier» qui, lorsque vous les connaissez assez tôt, vous font éviter beaucoup d’erreurs. En lisant cet article vous apprenez, j’espère. Vous pouvez également lire un guide de gestion, suivre un séminaire, participer à des cercles ou ateliers de réflexion, etc. Je connais un groupe d’amis qui ont démarré des différentes affaires dans la même période et qui se retrouvent souvent pour «prier et échanger sur leurs différentes expériences». Parmi eux, il y en a qui n’ont jamais mis pied au lycée, il y en a qui sont bacheliers, il y en a qui ont des diplômes de troisième cycle. Vous aussi, vous pouvez profiter de toutes les occasions pour apprendre. C’est le secret des entrepreneurs gagnants. <br />Il reste ceci: <br />L’entreprise que vous démarrez ne sera pas forcément de votre domaine d’expertise. Il existe en Afrique de l’Ouest et plus précisément au Bénin un grand marché appelé Dantokpa. Les femmes de ce marché soumissionnent à des appels d’offre et obtiennent des marchés pour fournir à l’Etat des milliers de micro-ordinateurs alors qu’elles n’ont jamais tapé sur un clavier ni jamais bougé une souris. <br />Enfin, le ciel ne tombera pas sur vous si vous venez à avoir des difficultés financières. La sagesse populaire nous enseigne ceci. <br />La patience est un chemin d’or; il n’est pas évident que l’argent coule à flot dès les premiers jours de la vie de votre entreprise. Il y a d’ailleurs très peu d’entrepreneurs qui y arrivent. Je vous dirai plutôt bravo si vous y arrivez. Si, par contre, vous êtes comme moi, vous aurez certainement besoin de suer un tout petit peu avant que tout ne donne l’impression d’être devenu une vache à lait. Au fait les entreprises ou les opportunités qui génèrent trop de cash dès le début ont souvent une durée de vie très courte. <br />Charbonnier est maître chez soi. Ce qui vous appartient fait de vous son roi. Si vous pouvez éviter autant que possible de vous endetter et compter sur vos propres ressources même si elles sont maigres, il y a de fortes chances que vous ne fassiez partie de ceux qui s’écroulent très vite sous le poids des dettes. Et votre entreprise est à vous. Ce que vous gagnez est le fruit de vos efforts. Le crédit peut vous appuyer, mais c’est grave si vous devez trop en dépendre. <br />L’argent appelle l’argent. Il y a un investissement minimum à faire ; ne serait-ce que pour l’équipement. Vous pouvez démarrer sans équipement. Dans une mesure pareille vous gagnez peu. Si vous souhaitez gagner davantage vous n’avez pas le choix, il faudra mettre la main à la poche. <br />Avant de lancer une affaire, arrêtez-vous un instant et réfléchissez bien pour s’assurer vous avez tout ce qu’il vous faut. Avoir sa propre affaire est possible pour tous. Mais ce n’est pas un jeu d’enfant, ce n’est pas une mince affaire. Alors mettez-y un peu de sagesse et d’intelligence pratiques et la voie de la richesse s’ouvrira pour vous aussi.<br />How to Build your Confidence<br />Amy Gallo<br />Very few people succeed in business without a degree of confidence. Yet everyone, from young people in their first real jobs to seasoned leaders in the upper ranks of organizations, have moments- or days, months, or even years- when they are unsure of their ability to tackle challenges. No one is immune to these bouts of insecurity at work, but they don't have to hold you back. <br />What the Experts Say<br />"Confidence equals security equals positive emotion equals better performance," says Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live. And yet he concedes that "insecurity plagues consciously or subconsciously every human being I've met." Overcoming this self-doubt starts with honestly assessing your abilities (and your shortcomings) and then getting comfortable enough to capitalize on (and correct) them, adds Deborah H. Gruenfeld, the Moghadam Family Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Co-Director of the Executive Program for Women Leaders at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Here's how to do that and get into the virtuous cycle that Schwartz describes. <br />Preparation Your piano teacher was right: practice does make perfect. "The best way to build confidence in a given area is to invest energy in it and work hard at it," says Schwartz. Many people give up when they think they're not good at a particular job or task, assuming the exertion is fruitless. But Schwartz argues that deliberate practice will almost always trump natural aptitude. If you are unsure about your ability to do something — speak in front of large audience, negotiate with a tough customer — start by trying out the skills in a safe setting. "Practice can be very useful, and is highly recommended because in addition to building confidence, it also tends to improve quality. Actually deliver the big presentation more than once before the due date. Do a dry run before opening a new store," says Gruenfeld. Even people who are confident in their abilities can become more so with better preparation.<br />Get out of your own way<br />Confident people aren't only willing to practice, they're also willing to acknowledge that they don't - and can't - know everything. "It's better to know when you need help, than not," says Gruenfeld. "A certain degree of confidence - specifically, confidence in your ability to learn - is required to be willing to admit that you need guidance or support." <br />On the flip side, don't let modesty hold you back. People often get too wrapped up in what others will think to focus on what they have to offer, says Katie Orenstein, founder and director of The OpEd Project, a non-profit that empowers women to influence public policy by submitting opinion pieces to newspapers. "When you realize your value to others, confidence is no longer about self-promotion," she explains. "In fact, confidence is no longer the right word. It's about purpose." Instead of agonizing about what others might think of you or your work, concentrate on the unique perspective you bring. <br />Get feedback when you need it<br />While you don't want to completely rely on others' opinions to boost your ego, validation can also be very effective in building confidence. Gruenfeld suggests asking someone who cares about your development as well as the quality of your performance to tell you what she thinks. Be sure to pick people whose feedback will be entirely truthful; Gruenfeld notes that when performance appraisals are only positive, we stop trusting them. And then use any genuinely positive commentary you get as a talisman. <br />Also remember that some people need more support than others, so don't be shy about asking for it. "The White House Project finds, for example, that many women need to be told they should run for office before deciding to do so. Men do not show this pattern of needing others' validation or encouragement," says Gruenfeld. It's okay if you need praise. <br />Take risks<br />Playing to your strengths is a smart tactic but not if it means you hesitate to take on new challenges. Many people don't know what they are capable of until they are truly tested "Try things you don't think you can do. Failure can be very useful for building confidence," says Gruenfeld. Of course, this is often easier said than done. "It feels bad to not be good at something. There's a leap of faith with getting better at anything," says Schwartz. But don't assume you should feel good all the time. In fact, stressing yourself is the only way to grow. Enlisting help from others can make this easier. Gruenfeld recommends asking supervisors to let you experiment with new initiatives or skills when the stakes are relatively low and then to support you as you tackle those challenges. <br />Principles to Remember<br />Do: <br />Be honest with yourself about what you know and what you still need to learn <br />Practice doing the things you are unsure about<br />Embrace new opportunities to prove you can do difficult things<br />Don't:<br />Focus excessively on whether you or not you have the ability - think instead about the value you provide <br />Hesitate to ask for external validation if you need it <br />Worry about what others think — focus on yourself, not a theoretical and judgmental audience<br />Case Study #1: Get the knowledge and get out of your own way<br />In 2010, Mark Angelo, was asked by the CEO of Hospital for Special Surgery in New York to create and implement a program to improve quality and efficiency. Mark was relatively new to the organization. He had worked as a business fellow for the previous year but had recently taken on the role of director of operations and service lines. Even though he had background in operations strategy from his days as a management consultant, he was not familiar with the Lean/Six Sigma principles he'd need to use for this project and didn't feel equipped to build the program from scratch. He was particularly concerned he wouldn't be able to gain the necessary support from the hospital's physicians and nurses. What would they think of a young administrator with no hospital experience telling them how to improve quality and increase efficiency?<br />For five months, Mark struggled to get the project on track and his confidence suffered. He knew that his apprehension was in part due to his lack of knowledge of Six Sigma. He read a number of books and articles on the subject, talked to consulting firms that specialized in it, and spoke with hospitals that had been successful in developing and implementing similar programs. This helped but he realized he still didn't know if he would be able to get the necessary people on board. "I was anxious and stressed because I had no idea how I was going to transform the organization. I knew I couldn't do it on my own. It was going to take a collective effort that included our management team and all of our staff," he said.<br />He talked with the CEO who had supported him since the beginning. He also looked to his family for emotional support. Through these conversations he realized that his anxiety stemmed from a desire to be liked by his colleagues and therefore to avoid conflict. "After many discussions with my CEO and observing how he handled these situations, I learned that it is better to strive to be well-respected than well-liked," he said.<br />This was a turning point for Mark. Instead of worrying so much about what others thought of him, he focused on doing what was best for the patient and the institution. In December, he presented the vision for the program to the entire medical staff. While he was nervous about how it would be received, he knew this was a critical moment. "I was able to get up in front of one our toughest constituencies and present the vision that we had been developing over the past few months," he says. His presentation was met with applause. "In the end, my confidence grew by leaps and bounds and we were able to design a program that has since taken off with great success across the hospital. I was able to overcome my mental blocks and knowledge deficits to build a program that will truly help transform how we approach performance improvement and patient care," he says. <br />Case Study #2: Know the value you bring<br />Julie Zhuo knew she had things to say but she wasn't sure how to get heard. As a product design manager at Facebook, she had developed valuable expertise in the products she worked on. Yet, she lacked the confidence to share her ideas. She was used to being one of very few women in the room. That had been the case when she was studying computer science at Stanford and it was still true now that she was at Facebook. She knew this meant she needed to make a concerted effort to speak up. But being the minority voice wasn't the only reason she felt unsure of herself. She says that she also suffered from "imposter syndrome," feeling as if she hadn't earned a right to her ideas; she had somehow ended up where she was accidently, not through hard work.<br />Julie was intrigued when someone in HR told her about a workshop offered at Stanford by the Op-Ed Project. After attending and getting positive feedback about her ideas, Julie tried something she had never thought to do before: write an op-ed. <br />Last November, she published a piece in the New York Times about the danger of anonymity in online discussions. "It was a matter of someone saying you can do it," she explains. "It had never occurred to me that I could be published. But it actually wasn't hard at all." The reaction she got in the workshop and afterward back at Facebook boosted her confidence. "Since then, she's gotten a lot of support from colleagues, which has emboldened her to speak her mind. "Of course it's still a work in progress, but now I'm a much more confident speaker and writer," she says. <br />Where Will You Be in Five Years?<br />Amy Gallo<br />Most people have been asked that perennial, and somewhat annoying, question: "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Of course it is asked most often in a job interview, but it may also come up in a conversation at a networking event or a cocktail party. Knowing and communicating your career goals is challenging for even the most ambitious and focused person. Can you really know what job you'll be doing, or even want to be doing, in five years?<br />What the Experts Say<br />In today's work world, careers take numerous twists and turns and the future is often murky. "Five years, in today's environment, is very hard to predict. Most businesses don't even know what's going to be required in two or three years," says Joseph Weintraub, a professor of management and organizational behavior at Babson College and co-author of the book, The Coaching Manager: Developing Top Talent in Business. While it may be difficult to give a direct and honest response to this question, Weintraub and Timothy Butler, a senior fellow and the director of Career Development Programs at Harvard Business School, agree that you need to be prepared to answer it. And you need to treat any conversation like an interview. "Every person you talk to or meet is a potential contact, now or in the future," says Weintraub.<br />The first step is knowing the answer for yourself. "It's a very profound question. At the heart of it is 'where does meaning reside for me?'" says Butler. You have to clarify for yourself what you aspire to do with your career before you can communicate it confidently to others.<br />Be introspective<br />Figuring out the answer to this question is not an easy task. "The real issue is to do your homework. If you're thinking this through in the moment, you're in trouble," says Butler. In his book Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Discovering Your Next Career Path, Butler cautions that you need to be prepared to do some serious introspection and consider parts of your life that you may not regularly think about. "It starts with a reflection on what you are good at and what you are not good at," says Weintraub. Far too many people spend time doing things they are not suited for or enjoy. Weintraub suggests you ask yourself three questions: <br />What are my values?<br />What are my goals?<br />What am I willing to do to get there?<br />This type of contemplation can help you set a professional vision for the next five years. The challenge is then to articulate that vision in various situations: a meeting with your manager, a networking chat, or a job interview. <br />If you don't know, admit it<br />Even the deepest soul-searching may not yield a definitive plan for you. There are many moving parts in people's career decisions — family, the economy, finances — and you may simply not know what the next five years holds. Some worry that without a polished answer they will appear directionless. This may be true in some situations. "For some people, if you don't have the ambition, you're not taken seriously," says Weintraub. But you shouldn't fake it or make up an answer to satisfy your audience. This can be especially dangerous in a job interview. Saying you want P&L responsibility in five years when you have no such ambitions may land you the job, but ultimately will you be happy? "Remember the goal is to find the right job, not just a job. You don't want to get it just because you were a good interviewee," says Weintraub. <br />Know what they're really asking<br />Butler and Weintraub agree that while the five-year question is not a straightforward one. Butler says that hiring managers rely on it to get at several different pieces of information at once. The interviewer may want to know, Is this person going to be with us in five years? "The cost of turnover is high so one of my biggest concerns as a hiring manager is getting someone who will be around," says Butler. There is another implied question as well: Is the position functionally well-matched for you? The interviewer wants to know if you'll enjoy doing the job. Weintraub points to another possibility: "They are trying to understand someone's goal orientation and aspirational level." In other words, how ambitious are you? Before responding, consider what the asker wants to know. <br />Focus on learning and development<br />You run the risk of coming off as arrogant if you answer this question by saying you hope to take on a specific position in the company, especially if the interviewer is currently in that position. Butler suggests you avoid naming a particular role and answer the question in terms of learning and development: What capabilities will you have wanted to build in five years? For example, "I can't say exactly what I'm going to be doing in five years, but I hope to have further developed my skills as a strategist and people manager." This is a safe way to answer regardless of your age or career stage. "You don't want to ever give the impression that you're done learning," says Weintraub. <br />Reframe the question<br />Research has shown that it's less important that you answer the exact question and more important that you provide a polished answer. Enter the interview knowing what three things you want the interviewer to know about you. Use every question, not just this one, to get those messages across. You can also shorten the timeframe of the question by saying something like, "I don't know where I'll be in five years, but within a year, I hope to land several high-profile clients." You can also use the opportunity to express what excites you most about the job in question. "In any competitive environment, the job is going to go to someone who is genuinely interested and can articulate their interest," says Butler. <br />Principles to Remember<br />Do:<br />First, do the contemplative work to develop a personal answer to the question <br />Understand what the interviewer is trying to gather from your response <br />Shorten the timeframe of the question so you can give a more specific and reasonable reply<br />Don't:<br />Make up an answer you don't believe in<br />Provide a specific position or title; instead focus on what you hope to learn <br />Feel limited to answering the narrow question asked — broaden it to communicate what you want the hiring manager to know about you<br />Case Study #1: Know where you thrive<br />Bob Halsey found out about the opening of associate dean of Babson's undergraduate program the same way everyone else at the school did — through an email announcement. He had been on the faculty as a professor of Accounting for 12 years and recently had taken on the role of chair for that department. Prior to his academic career, he had been in the corporate world, holding a CFO position at a retailing and manufacturing company and working as the vice president and manager of the commercial lending division of a large bank. <br />The associate dean job appealed to him because it was similar to the positions in which he'd thrived in the corporate world. Reflecting on his years of experience, Bob knew he most enjoyed being in a supporting role, rather than the top gun. While an associate dean position is often seen as a stepping-stone for those who eventually want to become dean, Bob wasn't interested in that. He didn't want to be the center of attention, now or in the future. <br />Plus everyone at the school loved the current dean, Dennis Hanno, and Bob knew it would be unpalatable for him to talk with the nominating committee about eventually unseating Dennis. When asked about his future plans, Bob was clear: "I said, 'I'm not coming in with any designs on becoming dean. And if Dennis leaves, I will keep the train going until we get a new dean. I have always been a terrific number two. I am the person who can make your number one a success.'" Joe Weintraub, the expert from above and a member of the committee, said it was clear that Bob was passionate about the role, and the committee was impressed with his candor. He said that under other circumstances Bob might have appeared to be lacking aspiration, but in this case his response simply told them he was the right person for the job.<br />"When people really want a job, they tend to overpromise. I figured it doesn't do me any good to get in under false expectations," says Bob. "My motivation in taking this job was to work alongside and learn from Dennis." He has been serving as associate dean for close to a year now and has found the satisfaction he was looking for. <br />Case Study #2: Be honest about the future<br />Three years ago Margaret Quandt was working as an HR generalist at Bristol Myers Squibb when a former colleague who worked at CitiGroup called to ask if she was interested in applying for a generalist job. At the time, Margaret wasn't sure she wanted to continue along the generalist track. She knew she eventually wanted more specialty experience. "I went into HR to be an HR professional, not to be a generalist," she says. But her contact told her there would likely be other more specialized opportunities in the future, so she decided to apply.<br />During an interview with Brian, the SVP of the division that she would be supporting, he asked her, "Do you want to run HR someday?" Brian was a highly ambitious senior executive; as the SVP of Commercial Payment Solutions, he held full P&L responsibility. Margaret answered, "I don't know." She could see Brian react immediately: "His whole body language changed and he sat back in his chair". She then qualified her response, "Aspirationally yes," she said, "but I also love teaching and research. I'm a young woman in my childbearing years and I've worked with enough women in HR to know that we don't always get to do what we aspire to. It's really hard for me at this point in my career to look more than three years out." Brian paused for a long time and then said, "That's one of the most honest answers I've heard." After the interview, Margaret was concerned she might have blown it, but she was happy with her decision to be honest. "I don't lie in interviews," she says.<br />Margaret got the job and soon after she was hired Brian confessed that he had been concerned about her answer at first. But as he reflected on it, he realized how much sense it made. It showed him that Margaret was both thoughtful and serious about her career. Margaret was the HR generalist to Brian's division for 17 months; then, as she'd hoped, she was promoted to her current, specialized role managing a global leadership development program for high-performing managers.<br />Managing Yourself: Extreme Productivity<br />Robert C. Pozen<br />Bob Pozen does a lot. He’s been a top executive at two mutual fund giants, Fidelity and MFS Investment Management. He’s also been an attorney, a government official, a law school professor, a business school professor, and a prolific author. And he has often been several of those things at once. Yet Pozen never comes across as overwhelmed, frazzled, or even all that busy. We know this because he’s a frequent contributor to HBR and hbr.org—with a reputation around our offices for writing faster than we can edit. Our experiences with him led us to wonder if he might have something interesting to say about personal productivity. So we asked him about it. The result was a series of blog posts for hbr.org (http://s.hbr.org/eDJ4g4), which Pozen has here distilled into six principles for a more productive work life.<br />Principle 1: Know Your Comparative Advantage<br />Many CEOs I’ve encountered say, “Here are the top five priorities for the company. Who would be the best at carrying out each one?” Then they propose themselves for all five areas. That might be the right answer, but it’s the wrong question, because it’s based on a self-centered concept of comparative advantage. It focuses on what an executive does best rather than on what the organization most needs from him or her.<br />The correct question is, “Which functions can only you as the CEO perform?” You may be the only executive who can meet with a top regulator or persuade a key client to stay. You may also be essential to recruiting senior staff. But a CEO has to hold back from taking on other responsibilities even if he or she excels at delivering on them. When CEO Rob Manning recruited me to join MFS as chairman, in 2004, we explicitly divided the high-priority functions. Although I had run the investment management group at Fidelity, Rob is a talented investment guy and a natural leader who wanted to take charge of that group at MFS. We agreed that I wouldn’t even show up on the investment floor.<br />The same applies to midlevel executives. You may be outstanding in finance and solid in marketing, but if your company is stacked with good finance people and very weak on marketing, your highest and best use is probably in the latter. So don’t focus just on what you do best. You’re more likely to succeed if you look around and gauge how you can be most useful.<br />Many executives also spend too much time on operational details, such as the best flight to take or the seating plan at a corporate dinner. Such tasks should be delegated, if possible, to an executive assistant. Of course, the boss must be able to rely on this person to get the tasks done correctly, quickly, and politely. Once confidence is established, he or she should go to great lengths to support and retain such an assistant, who is crucial to being productive.<br />Principle 2: It’s Not the Time You Spend but the Results You Produce<br />Most executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs put a huge amount of time into their jobs. In a crisis it may be necessary to burn the midnight oil, but the ambitious have a tendency to stay late every night. This tendency arises from the implicit assumption that more hours equal more value added. That is too simplistic. Your success should be measured by the results you produce, not the number of hours you log.<br />When I joined a law firm in Washington, DC, I soon realized that charging clients for the number of hours worked made no sense. That billing method encouraged lawyers to work lots of hours rather than to get good results quickly. After a few years, my clients knew that I was efficient, so I ran an experiment. I sent them a letter explaining that in the future I would bill them for double the time I actually spent on their work—unless they objected. Not one client did.<br />Focusing on results rather than hours has the added benefit of allowing a better balance between family and work. When I had young children, I came home most weekdays at 7:00 to have dinner and spend some quality time with them. Later in the evening, if necessary, I would work in my home office. On the weekends my children usually slept late, so I would work from 7:00 to 11:00 in the morning and have most of the day left to be with my family.<br />Of course, work and home lives sometimes conflict, but that can often be managed. For example, I was working at the Securities and Exchange Commission when mortgage-backed securities started to become big, in the 1980s. There was an intragovernmental task force on the subject with staff from the SEC, the Treasury, and the Fed. I was asked to head part of the task force, which was supposed to meet from 6:30 to 8:30 several nights each week in order to avoid interference with the agencies’ normal work. I said, “Well, I’m sorry, I won’t be able to do it.” They asked why. I said, “Because I go home and have dinner with my kids.” So they scheduled the meeting for 5:00 to 7:00-which, of course, didn’t interfere with the day’s work.<br />Principle 3: Think First, Read or Write Second<br />Many people feel overwhelmed by the huge volume of reading and writing they have to do for their business. They don’t realize that the key to faster and more effective reading and writing is more-rigorous thinking in advance.<br />I’m not talking about reading novels for pleasure. I’m talking about the mound of business material that piles up on your desk and clogs your computer. To be a speed reader, you have to be very clear in your own mind about why you are reading. For example, in reading the Financial Times after the Wall Street Journal, I am looking for international issues not covered by the Journal.<br />Here’s an exercise I used with my children and nephews. When I saw them doing dense reading in a history or science textbook, I would ask, “When you get to the exam in a month or two, what do you want to remember from this chapter?” Then I’d say, “After reading this chapter, please write no more than the one or two paragraphs you want to remember for the exam. Then go back and see how you could read more efficiently to obtain that paragraph or two.”<br />With e-mails, the first thing to do is to decide which ones need to be read. Second, if any of them are important, I try to answer them right away. If I can’t, or they have lengthy attachments, I have them printed out. The next morning I have hard copies of them on my desk and know what I need to respond to.<br />When it comes to writing something longer than an e-mail, the key is to first figure out your argument. If I don’t fully understand my line of argument, I cannot write even a paragraph. To do this, compose an outline before writing. For an article or a memorandum, that means just four or five key points with a few subpoints under each. I’ve seen many executives realize what they wanted to say only after they had written a lengthy draft. That is unfortunate. You should know where you will end up before you start.<br />Try this: After composing an outline, write the concluding paragraph. That will tell you whether you really know where your article or memo is going.<br />Principle 4: Prepare Your Plan, but Be Ready to Change It<br />Most executives must give talks to various groups. They often prepare by writing out the full text of their remarks. But that makes them feel compelled to deliver the whole speech even if the audience is not receptive. Speaking is very different from writing. You need a much clearer line of argument, and you have to connect with your listeners at a given time. They may be bored or excited—you won’t know in advance. To prepare for a speaking engagement, you should jot down on one page a list of your four or five key points and a concluding paragraph. Then try to arrive early enough to hear the prior speaker or to chat with people during a break. That will allow you to grasp the mood of the audience and tailor your four or five points to its state of mind.<br />I once spoke after James Carville, the Democratic political consultant. He is a folksy raconteur with a wicked set of jokes about his childhood in Louisiana. The crowd was in a boisterous mood after Carville’s speech, so I introduced myself as “Billy Bob” Pozen and the audience exploded with applause and laughter.<br />The same approach can be applied routinely at work. I’m a big advocate of preparing in the evening for the following day. In reviewing each item on the schedule, I’ll write down a few words about what I want to accomplish. I’ll also compose a list of tasks in order of priority. At the end of the day I’ll review what I’ve gotten done and decide what I need to do in the future. However, I often have to revise my schedule as events progress. Sometimes a meeting is canceled or added, or I’m asked to comment on a news show. So I just revise my to-do list and reset my priorities.<br />Many top executives fill every hour of their workday calendars with meetings or phone calls. That leaves little room for dealing with unanticipated developments. I try to keep at least one hour open each day so that I can respond quickly to new events or issues.<br />Principle 5: Let Others Own Their Space<br />It is important to be flexible not only in your own plans but also when listening to your employees. Many executives begin meetings in a directive manner: “This is my view about where this project should head. And here are the key steps I believe we need to take.” That gives a meeting focus, but it may also discourage participants from voicing concerns.<br />Don’t Forget to Sleep (and Other Tips for a Healthful Life)<br />I take a different approach—the rebuttable hypothesis, which is designed to encourage debate. I might say, “Here is the area where we really need to do something. It is a difficult area, and there are several ways to address the problems. Now, this is my tentative view of the path we should take, but I could be wrong. I want you to feel free to disagree and offer alternatives.” Then I have to be willing to discard or modify my hypothesis if someone comes up with a better approach.<br />At the end of a meeting I will always ask, “What are the to-dos, who’s going to take care of them, and when will they be delivered?” I want the participants to agree on the deliverables and to set their own timetable. Then they will have an ownership interest in the follow-up, rather than just going along with my directions. And they often select a more aggressive timetable than I would have had the nerve to suggest.<br />More broadly, I’ve become messianic about the general principle that people should own their own space. Under this principle, every employee in a large company is viewed as the owner of a small business. The boss’s role is to provide reports with resources, give them guidance, and help them do battle with other people in the broader organization.<br />You can reinforce the principle of ownership in many ways. For instance, instead of assigning detailed tasks, you can present general priorities for the upcoming year and let your reports formulate specific ways to implement those priorities along with the metrics for measuring success.<br />When you apply this principle, you must be prepared to tolerate mistakes. If employees own their unit, they must be given leeway to try out new strategies. That invariably means that they will sometimes drive to a dead end or incorrectly assess a market’s potential. If you fire them for making such mistakes of judgment, you will undermine the culture of ownership. Of course, your tolerance for mistakes should not be unlimited. You should not ignore illegal or unethical actions. Nor should you tolerate repetition of similar mistakes by the same people. One of my favorite sayings is, “Let’s make a new mistake.”<br />Principle 6: Keep Things Short and Simple<br />On a daily basis, I try to keep the material aspects of life as simple as possible in order to maximize productivity. I get up every morning around 7:00 and have shaved, showered, and dressed by 7:15. Then I read two newspapers while having breakfast and leave home around 7:30. The night before, I set out what I’m going to wear. I have five winter outfits and five summer outfits. And I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning—a banana and a bowl of cold cereal. I’m very boring in the morning.<br />For lunch I have a chicken salad sandwich and a diet soda, unless I’m attending an outside event. I try to take a nap every day after lunch—I just close the door, put up my feet, and I’m out like a light for almost exactly 30 minutes. I feel refreshed and energized for the rest of the day. When I’m on the road, I usually have meetings at breakfast and lunch, but I still try to sneak in my afternoon nap.<br />I also have a travel routine. I take the same carry-on bag with a prepacked plastic bag of toiletries. That bag fits on overhead racks, but it’s big enough to carry clothes for four or even five nights away. I carry a canvas bag instead of a briefcase, because it’s lighter and holds more. In that bag I keep my passport, a set of pens, a blindfold, and earplugs. Plus I have a little flashlight, so if I’m in a taxi and the light is bad, I can still keep working.<br />The keep-it-simple rule applies equally well to other aspects of work life, such as meetings. Almost any meeting can be completed in an hour or at most an hour and a half. After 90 minutes, people turn off—they get tired and stop paying attention.<br />The presenter at a meeting should circulate materials in advance to all participants. These should always include a one-page executive summary, and the explicit norm should be that everyone reads at least the summary before attending the meeting.<br />In a productive meeting, the presenter takes five or 10 minutes to set the stage and tee up the key questions. That leaves the rest of the time for discussing issues and formulating an action plan. But we have all attended unproductive meetings. We sit quietly and politely as the presenter reads every word of 20 or 30 PowerPoints—many of which were included in the advance materials for the meeting. Instead, after the first 15 minutes of slides, we should collectively rise up and exclaim, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore!” Wasted time and effort are the ultimate productivity killers. They should not be tolerated.<br />The Big Idea: The Wise Leader<br />Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi<br />How CEOs can learn practical wisdom to help them do what’s right for their companies and society.<br /> In an era when discontinuity is the only constant, the ability to lead wisely has nearly vanished. All the knowledge in the world did not prevent the collapse of the global financial system three years ago or stop institutions like Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual from failing.<br />No one could slow down the recession as it sped across the world, or ensure that market leaders like General Motors and Circuit City didn’t go bankrupt. No one realized that despite enormous government stimuli, the road to recovery would be torturous, with so few jobs created in the U.S. and Japan. Never did we expect more of leadership—and never have we been so disappointed.<br />It isn’t uncertainty alone that has paralyzed CEOs today. Many find it difficult to reinvent their corporations rapidly enough to cope with new technologies, demographic shifts, and consumption trends. They’re unable to develop truly global organizations that can operate effortlessly across borders. Above all, leaders find it tough to ensure that their people adhere to values and ethics. The prevailing principles in business make employees ask, “What’s in it for me?” Missing are those that would make them think, “What’s good, right, and just for everyone?” The purpose of business, executives still believe, is business, and greed is good so long as the SEC doesn’t find out.<br />The gulf between the theory and practice of ethics exists in business for several reasons: There is a big difference between what top management preaches and what frontline people do. There’s a philosophical tendency in the West, following Plato, to conclude that if a theory isn’t working, there must be something wrong with reality. People behave less ethically when they are part of organizations or groups. Individuals who may do the right thing in normal situations behave differently under stress. And common rationalizations, such as that you are acting in the company’s best interest, or justifications, such as that you will never be found out, lead to misconduct.<br />Hit by fraud, deceit, and greed, people are angry about the visible lack of values and ethics in business. There’s something wrong with the way B-schools, companies, and leaders are developing managers. As Bent Flyvbjerg pointed out in Making Social Science Matter (Cambridge, 2001), instead of trying to emulate the natural sciences, we should have ensured that management asked questions such as “Where are we going?” “Who gains, who loses, and by which mechanisms of power?” “Is this development desirable?” “What should we do about it?”<br />For leaders to cope with these myriad pressures, knowledge is more critical than ever before. Sixteen years ago we published The Knowledge-Creating Company. Since then executives have come to recognize that knowledge can yield sustainable competitive advantage. Companies have learned to capture, store, and distribute knowledge, so it continually catalyzes innovation. However, as we have seen, leading a knowledge-creating company is difficult.<br />Why doesn’t knowledge result in wise leadership? The problem, we find, is twofold. Many leaders use knowledge improperly, and most don’t cultivate the right kinds. The types of knowledge we discussed in our book are now well known: explicit and tacit. Managers tend to rely on explicit knowledge, because it can be codified, measured, and generalized. Wall Street firms thought they could manage greater risk by using numbers, data, and scientific formulas instead of making judgments about loans one at a time. The same holds for the U.S. automobile industry, which relies on offering financial incentives rather than understanding customer needs. <br />Dependence only on explicit knowledge prevents leaders from coping with change. The scientific, deductive, theory-first approach assumes a world independent of context and seeks answers that are universal and predictive. However, all social phenomena—including business—are context dependent, and analyzing them is meaningless unless you consider people’s goals, values, and interests along with the power relationships among them. Yet executives fail to do just that.<br />Be an Optimist Without Being a Fool<br />Heidi Grant Halvorson<br />There are quite a number of motivational speakers and self-improvement books out there with a surprisingly simple message: believe that success will come easily to you, and it will. There is one small problem in this argument, however, which unfortunately doesn't seem to stop anyone from making it: it is utterly false.<br />In fact, not only is visualizing "effortless success" unhelpful, it is disastrous. This is good advice to give only if you are trying to sabotage the recipient. It is a recipe for failure. And no, I'm not overstating it.<br />But how can this be? Isn't optimism a good thing? Yes it is. Optimism and the confidence it creates are essential for creating and sustaining the motivation you need to reach your goals. Albert Bandura, one of the founding fathers of scientific psychology, discovered decades ago that perhaps the best predictor of an individual's success is whether or not they believe they will succeed. Thousands and thousands of experiments later, he has yet to be proven wrong.<br />But there is an important caveat: to be successful, you need to understand the vital difference between believing you will succeed, and believing you will succeed easily. Put another way, it's the difference between being a realistic optimist and an unrealistic optimist.<br />Realistic optimists (the kind Bandura was talking about) believe they will succeed, but also believe they have to make success happen — through things like effort, careful planning, persistence, and choosing the right strategies. They recognize the need for giving serious thought to how they will deal with obstacles. This preparation only increases their confidence in their own ability to get things done. Unrealistic optimists, on the other hand, believe that success will happen to them — that the universe will reward them for all their positive thinking, or that somehow they will be transformed overnight into the kind of person for whom obstacles cease to exist. (Forgetting that even Superman had Kryptonite. And a secret identity that took a lot of trouble to maintain. And also relationship issues.)<br />One of the clearest illustrations of the dangers of unrealistic optimism comes from a study of weight loss. Psychologist Gabriele Oettingen asked a group of obese women who had enrolled in a weight-loss program how likely they felt they were to reach their goals. She found that those women who were confident that they would succeed lost 26 pounds more than self-doubters, as expected.<br />But Oettingen also asked the women to tell her what they imagined their road to success would be like — if they thought they would have a hard time resisting temptation, or if they'd have no problem turning down free doughnuts in the conference room and a second trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet. The results were astounding: women who believed they would succeed easily lost 24 pounds less than those who thought their weight-loss journey would be no walk in the park.<br />She has found the same pattern of results in studies of students looking for high-paying jobs after college, singles looking to find lasting love, and seniors recovering from hip replacement surgery. Realistic optimists send out more job applications, find the courage to approach potential romantic partners, and work harder on their rehabilitation exercises- in each case, leading to much higher success rates.<br />Believing that the road to success will be rocky leads to greater success because it forces you to take action. People who are confident that they will succeed, and equally confident that success won't come easily, put in more effort, plan how they'll deal with problems before they arise, and persist longer in the face of difficulty. Unrealistic optimists are only too happy to tell you that you are "being negative" when you dare to express concerns, harbor reservations, or dwell too long on obstacles that stand in the way of your goal. In truth, this kind of thinking is a necessary step in any successful endeavor, and it is not at all antithetical to confident optimism. Focusing only on what we want, to the exclusion of everything else, is just the kind of naïve and reckless thinking that has landed industry leaders (and at times entire industries) in hot water.<br />Cultivate your realistic optimism by combining a positive attitude with an honest assessment of the challenges that await you. Don't visualize success — visualize the steps you will take in order to make success happen.<br />How Will You Measure Your Life?<br />Clayton M. Christensen<br />Editor’s Note: When the members of the class of 2010 entered business school, the economy was strong and their post-graduation ambitions could be limitless. Just a few weeks later, the economy went into a tailspin. They’ve spent the past two years recalibrating their worldview and their definition of success.<br />The students seem highly aware of how the world has changed (as the sampling of views in this article shows). In the spring, Harvard Business School’s graduating class asked HBS professor Clay Christensen to address them—but not on how to apply his principles and thinking to their post-HBS careers. The students wanted to know how to apply them to their personal lives. He shared with them a set of guidelines that have helped him find meaning in his own life. Though Christensen’s thinking comes from his deep religious faith, we believe that these are strategies anyone can use. And so we asked him to share them with the readers of HBR. To learn more about Christensen’s work, visit his HBR Author Page.<br />Before I published The Innovator’s Dilemma, I got a call from Andrew Grove, then the chairman of Intel. He had read one of my early papers about disruptive technology, and he asked if I could talk to his direct reports and explain my research and what it implied for Intel. Excited, I flew to Silicon Valley and showed up at the appointed time, only to have Grove say, “Look, stuff has happened. We have only 10 minutes for you. Tell us what your model of disruption means for Intel.” I said that I couldn’t—that I needed a full 30 minutes to explain the model, because only with it as context would any comments about Intel make sense. Ten minutes into my explanation, Grove interrupted: “Look, I’ve got your model. Just tell us what it means for Intel.”<br />I insisted that I needed 10 more minutes to describe how the process of disruption had worked its way through a very different industry, steel, so that he and his team could understand how disruption worked. I told the story of how Nucor and other steel minimills had begun by attacking the lowest end of the market—steel reinforcing bars, or rebar—and later moved up toward the high end, undercutting the traditional steel mills.<br />When I finished the minimill story, Grove said, “OK, I get it. What it means for Intel is...,” and then went on to articulate what would become the company’s strategy for going to the bottom of the market to launch the Celeron processor.<br />I’ve thought about that a million times since. If I had been suckered into telling Andy Grove what he should think about the microprocessor business, I’d have been killed. But instead of telling him what to think, I taught him how to think—and then he reached what I felt was the correct decision on his own.<br />That experience had a profound influence on me. When people ask what I think they should do, I rarely answer their question directly. Instead, I run the question aloud through one of my models. I’ll describe how the process in the model worked its way through an industry quite different from their own. And then, more often than not, they’ll say, “OK, I get it.” And they’ll answer their own question more insightfully than I could have.<br />My class at HBS is structured to help my students understand what good management theory is and how it is built. To that backbone I attach different models or theories that help students think about the various dimensions of a general manager’s job in stimulating innovation and growth. In each session we look at one company through the lenses of those theories—using them to explain how the company got into its situation and to examine what managerial actions will yield the needed results.<br />On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions: First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes Scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.<br />The Class of 2010<br />As the students discuss the answers to these questions, I open my own life to them as a case study of sorts, to illustrate how they can use the theories from our course to guide their life decisions.<br />Three Leadership Steps to Defuse Tense Situations<br />How do leaders maintain morale and momentum when members of their team are close to collapsing in frustration over the obstacles they face? Perhaps the issue is angry customers whose questions are hard to answer, or uncooperative peers from other groups who cause logjams and delay decisions. Team members might grumble and complain, or they might simply appear worn down, ready to drop the ball. <br />Sometimes leaders are frustrated or annoyed themselves. This is already taking too much time. The complaints sound like attacks, and it's tempting to become defensive or seethe silently. Tensions are mounting. Before tensions get worse, leaders should turn down the heat and get everyone back on track. They can use three simple communication steps.<br />Step 1: Empathize. Listen, and then show that you've heard by recapping how it looks from the team members' point of view. Indicate that you understand what the people are going through. You know that times are tough, and circumstances are particularly difficult. Like Bill Clinton, you can feel their pain. This step is a cliché because it's true, and it works. People calm down when they can tell their story and know that it's heard.<br />Step 2: Offer support. Demonstrate commitment to lending a helping hand if the situation gets worse. Strategize with team members about what might be done to remove obstacles, while avoiding the temptation to jump in to do it yourself. Suggest one action that you might take to help if they need it. Empower them by backing them up — they can do what they think needs to be done, knowing that they have your support. Sometimes they will take you up on an offer to intercede, but often they will hold the offer in reserve. <br />Step 3: Invoke higher principles. Why are we doing this in the first place? In the heat of the moment, the only thing that seems to matter is the details that are plaguing people — often operational matters that seem like bureaucratic nuisances, like getting a form signed or meeting details nailed down. The swarming alligators make you forget that the goal was to drain the swamp. They're tough to handle, distracting, and not very inspiring. To get perspective, zoom out to remind people of the vision, purpose, and principles that make the frustrations worth enduring. Lifting eyes to the prize can smooth tensions and inspire renewed effort. <br />Listen, support, and uplift. These steps are good practice even when times are not tense. When people feel understood, empowered, and guided by higher goals, tensions are defused and momentum restored.<br />Nine Things Successful People Do Differently<br />Heidi Grant Halvorson<br /> <br />Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren't sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do. <br />1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. "Lose 5 pounds" is a better goal than "lose some weight," because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you'll "eat less" or "sleep more" is too vague — be clear and precise. "I'll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights" leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you've actually done it.2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it's not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers. <br />To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., "If it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I'll work out for 30 minutes before work.") Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.<br />3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don't know how well you are doing, you can't adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.<br />4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don't underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.<br />5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.<br />Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.<br />The good news is, if you aren't particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don't have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking well, there's no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.<br />7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control "muscle" is just like the other muscles in your body- when it doesn't get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.<br />To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you'd honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don't. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur ("If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.") It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that's the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.<br />8. Don't tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it's important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don't try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don't put yourself in harm's way- many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., "Don't think about white bears!") has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior -by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.<br />If you want change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like "If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down." By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.<br />It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don't need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It's never what you are, but what you do.<br />Lessons for Social Entrepreneurs from the Microfinance Crisis<br />Are you sowing the seeds of your own ignominious end?<br />Melba J. Duncan<br />Two of the most inspirational stories in social entrepreneurship have taken quite a beating recently. The microfinance industry has in just a few years gone from making headlines for the Nobel Peace Prize to stories about limited impact, allegedly abusive tactics, client suicides, government crackdowns, major lenders struggling with insolvency and the forcible removal of Mohammed Yunus as Managing Director of Grameen Bank. Just this week, Greg Mortensen came crashing down as investigative reporters documented exaggerations, inaccuracies, and shady financial practices. These reversals may seem sudden, but they were years in the making. In both cases, the blame can be laid at the feet of the protagonists of the stories. <br />In the case of microfinance, the situation is quite complex and politics plays a major factor in the crises in both Andhra Pradesh and at Grameen (David Roodman is an excellent guide). But we shouldn't ignore how the microfinance industry made itself vulnerable to attacks with a political motive.<br />Since its birth, the microfinance industry has been making unsubstantiated claims about the effect of microcredit on poverty. The stock story of a woman taking a small loan and escaping poverty in a few years became synonymous with microcredit. That story has played a central role in the industry's ability to raise billions of dollars in grants, subsidies, and commercial capital. <br />Over the last decade, serious questions about the effectiveness of microcredit began to be raised. But the industry continued to overpromise with feel-good anecdotes even as data increasingly showed that microcredit, on average, has a quite limited (though generally positive) impact. Mini-crises in Bosnia, Bolivia, Morocco, Pakistan, India, and Nicaragua over the last few years didn't slow the PR, nor did a chorus of insiders raising concerns about multiple borrowing, client over-indebtedness and loan officer misbehavior. So when critics and opponents found a good headline, there was plenty of fodder to attack the industry.<br />Greg Mortensen also apparently felt the need to overpromise with his now discredited storytelling in Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools. Much of the attention of the scandal has been focused on inaccuracies in the books and allegations of financial mismanagement. But what will truly bring down CAI is either creative writing or excessive compensation for Mortensen. It's that Mortensen and CAI vastly overstated the impact of their work. There's 50 years of reliable data that building schools is one of the worst ways to spend education dollars and certainly far less effective than many cheaper approaches.<br />The microfinance industry and Greg Mortensen are now living with the consequences of overpromising, which eventually turns your biggest fans into unmerciful critics. As a social entrepreneur, the temptation to overpromise is especially powerful. You really want to make a difference and people want to be inspired. There is a powerful feedback loop that encourages playing fast and loose with the truth. Over the long term, truth will out, and it well may destroy not only your reputation but all the good you hoped to do.<br />There are major costs in the short term too. It becomes very difficult not to believe one's own overpromises, and that comprises your ability to make good decisions. Many in the microcredit industry believed their own marketing and that limited their willingness and ability to engage in self-reflection, to see the problems of growing too fast, of client over-indebtedness, of political resistance. If borrowers were escaping poverty, then how could there be too much microcredit? How could there be a growth rate that was too fast? How could there be an interest rate too high or loan officers that were too aggressive?<br />I worry that too many social entrepreneurs will look at the Mortensen story and think, "I don't fly in a private jet; there's nothing I need to worry about." The lesson here is much more applicable and much more fundamental: there are no shortcuts to changing the world. It is hard, complicated, slow work. Overpromising may seem worthwhile, and justifiable, but its not. So take a moment and ask yourself what kind of stories you are telling about your work and its impact? Are you telling true stories of hard, complicated, slow work? Or are you overpromising and sowing the seeds of your own ignominious end?<br />Among the most striking details of the corporate era depicted in the AMC series Mad Men, along with constant smoking and mid-day drinking, is the army of secretaries who populate Sterling Cooper, the 1960s ad agency featured in the show. The secretary of those days has gone the way of the carbon copy and been replaced by the executive assistant, now typically reserved for senior management. Technologies like e-mail, voice mail, mobile devices, and online calendars have allowed managers at all levels to operate with a greater degree of self-sufficiency. At the same time, companies have faced enormous pressure to cut costs, reduce head count, and flatten organizational structures. As a result, the numbers of assistants at lower corporate levels have dwindled in most corporations. That’s unfortunate, because effective assistants can make enormous contributions to productivity at all levels of the organization.<br />At very senior levels, the return on investment from a skilled assistant can be substantial. Consider a senior executive whose total compensation package is $1 million annually, who works with an assistant who earns $80,000. For the organization to break even, the assistant must make the executive 8% more productive than he or she would be working solo—for instance, the assistant needs to save the executive roughly five hours in a 60-hour workweek. In reality, good assistants save their bosses much more than that. They ensure that meetings begin on time with prep material delivered in advance. They optimize travel schedules and enable remote decision making, keeping projects on track. And they filter the distractions that can turn a manager into a reactive type who spends all day answering e-mail instead of a leader who proactively sets the organization’s agenda. As Robert Pozen writes in this issue: A top-notch assistant “is crucial to being productive.”<br />That’s true not only for top executives. In their zeal to cut administrative expenses, many companies have gone too far, leaving countless highly paid middle and upper managers to arrange their own travel, file expense reports, and schedule meetings. Some companies may be drawn to the notion of egalitarianism they believe this assistant-less structure represents—when workers see the boss loading paper into the copy machine, the theory goes, a “we’re all in this together” spirit is created. But as a management practice, the structure rarely makes economic sense. Generally speaking, work should be delegated to the lowest-cost employee who can do it well. Although companies have embraced this logic by outsourcing work to vendors or to operations abroad, back at headquarters they ignore it, forcing top talent to misuse their time. As a longtime recruiter for executive assistants, I’ve worked with many organizations suffering from the same problem: There’s too much administrative work and too few assistants to whom it can be assigned.<br />Granting middle managers access to an assistant—or shared resources—can give a quick boost to productivity even at lean, well-run companies. Firms should also think about the broader developmental benefits of providing assistants for up-and-coming managers. The real payoff may come when the manager arrives in a job a few levels up better prepared and habitually more productive. An experienced assistant can be particularly helpful if the manager is a new hire. The assistant becomes a crucial on-boarding resource, helping the manager read and understand the organizational culture, guiding him or her through its different (and difficult) personalities, and serving as a sounding board during the crucial acclimation. In this way, knowledgeable assistants are more than a productivity asset: They’re reverse mentors, using their experience to teach new executives how people are expected to behave at that level in the organization.<br />Getting the Most from Assistants<br />Two critical factors determine how well a manager utilizes an assistant. The first is the executive’s willingness to delegate pieces of his or her workload to the assistant. The second is the assistant’s willingness to stretch beyond his or her comfort zone to assume new responsibilities.<br />Delegating wisely.<br />The most effective executives think deeply about the pieces of their workload that can be taken on—or restructured to be partially taken on—by the assistant. Triaging and drafting replies to e-mails is a central task for virtually all assistants. Some executives have assistants listen in on phone calls in order to organize and follow up on action items. Today many assistants are taking on more-supervisory roles: They’re managing information flow, dealing with basic financial management, attending meetings, and doing more planning and organizing. Executives can help empower their assistants by making it clear to the organization that the assistant has real authority. The message the executive should convey is, “I trust this person to represent me and make decisions.”<br />Not every executive is well-suited for this type of delegating. Younger managers in particular have grown up with technology that encourages self-sufficiency. Some have become so accustomed to doing their own administrative tasks that they don’t communicate well with assistants. These managers should think of assistants as strategic assets and realize that part of their job is managing the relationship to get the highest possible return.<br />Stretching the limits<br />Great assistants proactively look for ways to improve their skills. When I was the assistant to Pete Peterson, the former U.S. commerce secretary and head of Lehman Brothers, I took night classes in law, marketing, and presentations to burnish my skills. Today I see executive assistants learning new languages and technologies to improve their performance working for global corporations.<br />In my work, I frequently encounter world-class executive assistants. Loretta Sophocleous is the executive assistant to Roger Ferguson, the president and CEO of TIAA-CREF; her title is Director, Executive Office Operations. She manages teams. She leads meetings. Roger says that he runs many decisions past Loretta before he weighs in.<br />Another example is Noreen Denihan, whom I placed over 13 years ago as the executive assistant to Donald J. Gogel, the president and CEO of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, LLC. According to Don, Noreen fills an informal leadership role, has an unparalleled ability to read complex settings, and can recognize and respond to challenging people and circumstances. “A spectacular executive assistant can defy the laws of the physical world,” Gogel says. “She [or he] can see around corners.”<br />Trudy Vitti is the executive assistant to Kevin Roberts, the CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi. Often when you ask him a question, he’ll say, “Ask Trudy.” He travels for weeks at a time and says that he has utter confidence in Trudy to run the office in his absence.<br />Compared with managers in other countries, those in the United States do a better job of delegating important work to their assistants-and of treating them as a real part of the management team. Outside the United States, educational requirements for assistants are less intensive, salaries are lower, and the role is more typically described as personal assistant.<br />You can often tell a lot about an executive’s management style-and effectiveness-from the way he interacts with his assistant. Can the executive trust and delegate, or does he micromanage? Do assistants like working for her, or does she have a history of many assistants leaving quickly or being fired? Not every boss–assistant relationship is made in heaven, but an executive’s ability to manage conflicts with an assistant can be an important indicator of his overall ability to manage people.<br />Finding the Right Fit<br />Hiring the right assistant can be a challenge. In some ways, it’s trickier than filling traditional management positions, because personal chemistry and the one-on-one dynamic are so important-sometimes more so than skills or experience.<br />Expert assistants understand the unspoken needs and characteristics of the people with whom they work. They have high levels of emotional intelligence: They respond to subtle cues and react with situational appropriateness. They pay close attention to shifts in an executive’s behavior and temperament and understand that timing and judgment are the foundation of a smooth working relationship. A good assistant quickly learns what an executive needs, what his or her strengths and weaknesses are, what might trigger anger or stress, and how to best accommodate his or her personal style. Good matches are hard to come by: That’s the reason so many good assistants follow an executive from job to job.<br />After many years of debriefing assistants who’ve been fired, I’ve identified several factors that make for bad relationships. The most common missteps an assistant makes are misreading the corporate culture, failing to build bridges with other assistants, failing to ask enough questions about tasks, agreeing to take on too much work, and speaking to external parties without authorization. Bosses usually contribute to these deteriorating relationships by not being open in their communications or not being clear about expectations.<br />There’s an assistant I placed recently who’s having trouble developing the right relationship with her boss. The executive called me and said, “Melba, I expected her to read through these memos and then get them out very quickly to my managers. But she left them on my desk, didn’t call me over the weekend, and didn’t send them out.” I asked the assistant about it, and she said, “He didn’t tell me it was important-I can’t read someone’s mind.” But in fact, in this job you’re supposed to be able to read minds-or, at the very least, you’re supposed to ask questions.<br /> <br />Simply put, the best executive assistants are indispensable. Microsoft will never develop software that can calm a hysterical sales manager, avert a crisis by redrafting a poorly worded e-mail, smooth a customer’s ruffled feathers, and solve a looming HR issue—all within a single hour, and all without interrupting the manager to whom such problems might otherwise have proven a distraction. Executive assistants give companies and managers a human face. They’re troubleshooters, translators, help desk attendants, diplomats, human databases, travel consultants, amateur psychologists, and ambassadors to the inside and outside world.<br />After years of cutting back, companies can boost productivity by arming more managers with this kind of help—and executives who are fortunate enough to have a skilled assistant can benefit by finding ways to delegate higher-level work to him or her. Executive–assistant relationships are business partnerships: Strong ones are win-wins between smart people. In fact, they’re win-win-wins because ultimately the companies reap the benefits.<br />Every Manager Is a Risk Manager<br />AA Ndedi<br />An MBA student once asked me to give her a simple explanation of the "risk management function." After a few minutes of fumbling, I told her that risk management is the process of identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating the impact of unforeseen (and usually negative) events. In other words, it's a form of proactive contingency planning- either to completely avoid difficult situations, or prepare for them so that any undesirable consequences are lessened.<br />Her question got me thinking about who is actually responsible for managing risk in an organization. There are many types of risk, and the official risk management function usually only addresses the most critical ones. For example, in a bank, risk management concentrates on financial risk; in a hospital, the focus is on patient and legal risk; in a manufacturing firm, the concern might be product or environmental liability; and in a utility the priority is outages.<br />Since these "big" risks are either integral to conducting business or threaten business continuity, it's appropriate that they receive special attention and resources. But on a day-to-day basis, managers face many other types of risk that are less visible and therefore receive less attention. But these risks also need to be managed- and if you're in a position of leadership, the act of managing them is probably up to you. <br />Here are a few of those less obvious risks that come to mind:<br />Project Risk: From the time a project is launched there are many factors- or risks- that might cause the project to be over budget, late, or unsuccessful in some other way. As a project leader you need to continually think through the risks that might endanger a project, focusing on how to get around them or limit their impact.<br />Reputational Risk: Companies derive great value from their reputations both at a brand level and in terms of overall image, but reputations can be easily damaged. Take for example the reputational damage done to Goldman Sachs last year when a single manager arrogantly defended business decisions widely considered antithetical to the firm's stated concern for its customers. Similarly, managerial inattention to quality standards severely harmed J&J's reputation for product safety. As a manager you need to be mindful of the risks to your firm's reputation that stem from your actions.<br />Customer Risk: Customers, both internal and external, are the lifeblood of an organization. If they don't want your product, service, or information, then you're out of business. Therefore you have a big stake in your customers' success and need to be aware of the risks that they face. This means doing more than just providing what's asked for- but proactively looking for other ways to add value.<br />There are undoubtedly many other types of risk that every leader needs to manage- staffing or skill gap risks (what happens if we lose some key people?); budgetary risks (how do we get our work done if the budget is cut?); supplier risks (how do I cover a shortage of key materials?); and many more. The often-unrecognized part of the manager's job is to identify these risks and prepare for them should they occur. And that goes for unanticipated positive developments as well, for example how to cope with a sudden surge in orders.<br />Yet at the same time, one of the recurring themes for managers these days is the need to learn how to take risks, which may seem contradictory to the notion of managing them. But in many ways the thought processes for each are the same. To take risks effectively you need to anticipate the possible impacts of your actions, and then make a conscious decision about whether to go forward or not, or to go forward in a way that will reduce negative consequences. <br />Perhaps one way of learning how to take risks is to be more conscious about the built-in risk management aspects of your job. If you improve your ability to identify and mitigate the ongoing business risks, it should give you more confidence in dealing with the personal risks required for innovation and working outside the box. To what extent do you consider yourself a risk manager?<br />How to Get Involved Without Micromanaging People<br />Linda Hill and Kent Lineback<br />One of the more vexing problems most managers face every day is how to get involved in the work of their people without doing the work themselves or micromanaging those doing it. You can resolve this challenge with the same approach that we described in our previous blog -the technique we call Prep-Do-Review. In this simple but often forgotten action model, you think of every activity not as one step- doing - but three distinct steps: prepare to act, act, and then reflect on the outcome and what can be learned from it.<br />Last time, we focused on how you can convert everyday activities into tools for making managerial progress-moving toward goals, developing people, building a team, creating and sustaining a network, and all the other things managers are supposed to do but never seem to have the time to do.<br />Here we focus on using Prep-Do-Review with your people. Start by expecting your people to use Prep-Do-Review themselves in their work. Not only will it make them more effective, but it will provide a way for you to become involved in their work as appropriate for the person and the situation.This is the way it works:<br />Prep: Start by previewing people's plans with them and suggesting changes, if necessary. You do this by asking crucial questions. What are you going to do? Why-for what purpose? How will you do it? How can you use this to make progress on our goals and plans? Who should be involved or kept informed? How can this be used to help you learn and get better? What if your assumptions are wrong or the unexpected happens? This is how you move your group's purpose, plans, and work forward, how you coach and develop others, how you delegate more confidently, how you assure yourself that someone is well prepared and ready to act on her own.<br />Do: Based on what you learned in the Prep stage, you can decide whether and how to be involved in the doing of the activity. Working with a novice, you may want to perform the activity yourself while the person observes. Next, you may want to monitor periodically as the person does the activity and then give them feedback afterward. Thereafter, you probably don't need to be present at all — the Prep and Review stages are where you'll be involved.<br />Review: Great managers make post-action review a regular practice for themselves and their people. You can make it the focus of a one-on-one after an activity has been completed. Or it can be part of periodic meetings with each of your people or a standard procedure you go through in the updates your people provide at staff meetings. Be sure to model what you expect when you describe something you did-Here's what we learned. Next time we'll do it this way.<br />Remember to do a review regardless of the outcome of an action — failure or success. We are much more likely to reflect on our failures. Too often, we don't take time to learn from our accomplishments and never really understand the keys to our success and what lessons we can take forward.Most of your managerial interactions with people will occur in the Prep and Review stages. Only with someone inexperienced or in situations of high stakes and high risk will you, or should you, be involved in the actual performance of a task.<br />Used this way consistently and consciously, Prep-Do-Review becomes a powerful management tool that will improve how you manage your people. By giving you ways to be involved without directly intruding as your people do their work, it will make your interactions with them richer, improve outcomes, help people learn, and make you a better delegator.<br />If you operate this way as a boss consistently, you'll find certain core management tasks become easier and more systematic. It will let you delegate more intelligently, based on both a person's skill and experience level and on the situation. It will help you coach people more effectively; indeed, it will help you turn many tasks into learning experiences. And it will let you use your time more effectively by helping you determine when you do and don't need to be involved.<br />With very experienced people, and especially with routine tasks, you needn't be involved in either Prep or Do, but as a boss you never completely let go of the Review stage. You may not review outcomes after every task, but ongoing performance review is something you'll never give up entirely.<br />If you think about it, Prep-Do-Review is the fundamental cycle of activities by which effective bosses manage-through a perpetual loop of prep-do-review-prep-do-review. By using it to become more mindful and deliberate in all you do, it will help you convert mundane workaday activities into management activities. It will help you make progress through the daily work. And it's the way you guide your people, produce results, and help them learn without inserting yourself unnecessarily into what they do. It's not the solution to every management challenge, but it's a powerful approach and the closest thing to a management secret that we know.<br />

×