Leadership for Life – Stand Back!

By on May 1, 2014
Tina Fey (cropped), Mingle Media TV, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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“In most cases, being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”

I saw that quote, attributed to Tina Fey, the other day on LinkedIn. It was one of those things that make you go, “Hmmm . . .” As many of you will note, it’s one of those sayings that is at once pithy, logical, and counter-intuitive.

Logically, one of the most important functions of a leader is to hire the most talented people. Can’t argue with that. There are some (me included) who would argue that just turning people loose, no matter how talented, can lead to utter chaos. A workforce, no matter how skilled, needs discipline, clear goals, ground rules, and a shared vision, all of which together can lead to great accomplishments.

The difference between me and some of the “Harumphing” crowd is that I believe that discipline, goals, and ground rules can be developed from within the talented work group, and not imposed upon them by the boss. It is also the responsibility of the boss to share his/her vision and sell it to the workforce, not just insist that they see it. Want to see this kind of management in action? Watch “Mr. Selfridge” on PBS.

On the same day I saw Tina Fey’s Quote, I saw this one, attributed to Richard Branson,

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Now there’s a statement worthy of a Bob Nelson calendar. The part that speaks to me is that a well-tuned workforce doesn’t just happen – it requires training, which may be where the discipline referred to above comes from.

Tina Fey and Richard Branson – what a team! Who knew that these two comic geniuses could come up with a leadership model?

Photo information: Tina Fey (cropped), by Mingle Media TV, CC BY-SA 2.0.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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