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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book


Leadership is most often associated with a dynamic and motivational style. However, you can achieve the same effect through a more reserved or conservative style.

Great leadership is primarily concerned with providing the resources that are necessary to enable staff members to get their job done.

If you have a desire to manage, you must be able to enable your workforce.

Enabling your workforce means giving them the resources, motivation, and direction to complete their projects and tasks.

Enabling can take many forms. It can be as simple as making sure that the physical resources for a job are in place. If you are a programmer, ensuring that you have the programming tools to get the job done is part of enabling. If you are an engineer or technician, ensuring that you have the equipment necessary to work and succeed is part of enabling.

Enabling can mean giving the appropriate amount of leeway to allow employees to accomplish their task without interruption. This might mean that a manager notifies others when an employee is unavailable for one of his projects.

Enabling also takes the form of project ownership. Turning over projects to staff members—allowing them to create and innovate—is key to effective management.

When I worked for a large law firm, I was privileged to see an excellent management style. The IT director did not assign projects to those whose title naturally fit the tasks. When a project or need arose, he would call everyone to a central location and explain the issue.

In the short conversation that followed, he identified those who had good ideas and teamed them up. These people were then assigned the project. He would request a list of resources or tools to complete the job—identifying those that were not already in our toolkits. He would then ensure that those tools were quickly located and purchased. At that point, ownership—success and failure—was the responsibility of the team.

This manager expected results and typically got them. Once, he asked if I could deliver on a given project in the time frame the attorney needed. I answered, "I think I can."

He replied, "I didn't ask if you thought you could do it. I'm about to stick my neck on the line and say that it will be done. Can you do it?"

I answered that I could, and he made sure that I had a laptop and the necessary software before the day had ended.

If you are to succeed as a manager, you must be comfortable with the idea of turning projects over to your staff. You must be effective at gauging your employees' skills so that you can mitigate risk of failure, but you must also allow for some growth—forcing employees to stretch their abilities with each project. Doing so keeps them interested and makes them more valuable.

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