The Privilege of Being President (And Knowing When To Keep Your Mouth Shut)

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"If you are not listening, you are not learning."
- Lyndon B. Johnson

"Leadership means duty, honor, country. It means character and even listening from time to time."
- George W. Bush

"Being President is like running a cemetery; you've got a lot of people under you but nobody's listening."
- Bill Clinton

I consider it a privilege to be President at Creatis. I wasn't elected into the role. My team didn't necessarily get to "vote me in" or choose that I was going to be their boss. But I had worked hard over the years and then got a bit lucky by being in the right place at the right time. And I take my 'presidency' role very seriously because with privilege comes obligation. The obligation to work hard to be a great boss. To know when to speak and, more importantly, to know when to keep my mouth shut. And yes, I am still working on that last part.

So before you assume the privilege of leadership, you need to ask yourself if you truly Get, Want and have the Capacity to be a great boss who can inspire others to do great things. Then once 'elected' to a leadership role, you need to work every day to enhance the skills needed to be the best boss you can be which often starts with being a really good communicator and listener.

At Creatis, we use the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) to run our business ( I have to say, EOS has an amazing toolkit which helps us efficiently run our business, and is the best darn thing I've ever come across to manage around "Minnesota Nice". One EOS tool we use extensively is part of the People Analyzer which is GWC.  Does a person truly GET it - does he have the aptitude, natural ability and understanding of the ins and out of the seat he is in? Does she WANT it - does she truly desire that role? Finally, does he/she have the CAPACITY to do it - which is about possessing the emotional, intellectual, physical and time capacity to do the job.

great boss

If you have the privilege of being in a leadership role, you need to determine if you have what it takes to truly be a great boss. In their book, How To Be a Great Boss, EOS founder and best-selling author Gino Wickman and business pro Rene Boer show that being a great boss comes down to creating and maintaining an environment where people excel. And it starts with those of us having the privilege of being in the President seat or some other leadership role.

So do you have the fire in the belly to be a great boss?  To find out, GWC yourself to see if you are up for the challenge.  First ask yourself if you truly GET it - do you have the aptitude, natural ability and true understanding of what it means to be the boss?  Next, ask yourself if you WANT it - do you genuinely desire the job of being the leader?  Do you get up every morning thinking about new ways to inspire your team? Do your actions show others that you truly want it? If you said 'yes' that you truly Get and Want to be a great boss - then the next question to ask yourself is if you have the CAPACITY to do the job well. There are four types of capacity:

  • Emotional Capacity -  the heart to feel what others are feeling; to be open and honest with yourself and others; to have a real connection with others, be humbly confident and self-aware enough to know how you are influencing and impacting others

  • Intellectual Capacity - the brains to do critical thinking, solve complex problems and find the right solutions; the ability to predict, prioritize and plan; being able to conceptualize, strategize and systematize how best to get things done

  • Physical Capacity - the stamina, energy and tenacity to do what it takes to finish what is started; the ability to 'pour it on' when needed, to devote time to master the craft; to do the work - and get your hands dirty when necessary

  • Time Capacity - having the self-discipline to use your time effectively; to structure, prioritize, organize and delegate in a way that frees up the most precious resource of you and your team - your time

So, you've GWC'd yourself for the boss role and it is a great fit, Now what?  Well among other key management skills, effective, two-way  communication will be needed for you to be successful. In How To Be A Great Boss, several great methods are defined that I use:

  1. Two Emotions - when unsure about what someone is thinking and feeling, ask: "If you could share two emotions about how you are feeling right now - one positive and one negative - what would they be?" This is a great way to open up a dialogue and find out what's going on with both of you.

  2. Question to Statement Ratio - typical managers do most of the talking when engaging with a direct report, so the trick is to ensure you maintain an 80/20 ratio where your direct report does 80% of the talking. Do this by asking "why, who, what, where and when'" questions rather than making statements (and then - of course - LISTEN to the answers you get)

  3. Echoing - if you are unsure if something has been understood, ask the following question: "Just to make sure that I am communicating well, could you please tell me what I just told you?"  It allows you to restate your message and ensure you are both in sync going forward.

It is indeed a privilege to be a leader and boss, with an obligation to only be in the seat if you genuinely want the job and then to go out and be the best boss you can possibly be. And while Epictetus is a greek philosopher and not a president, I'll still include his quote which is: "We have two ears and one mouth, so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."  Or the shorthard of this is - two ears, one mouth, use proportionately.

 I'll keep working at it.  I hope you do the same.

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