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Monthly Archives: February 2017


Leadership Nudge™ – Know All, Tell Not

Today we’re gonna talk about the four quadrants where leaders can operate.

Here we have Know All, Know Not, Tell All, and Tell Not.

As a leader, I always thought you wanted to be a Know All/Tell All leader. Since the leader knew everything, they were the natural person to give all the orders and since we had someone giving all the orders, well, they really better know everything.

I’m suggesting that a better place to be, long-term as a leader, is over here in the Know All, but Tell Not quadrant. Why?

Because, over here is where you resist telling your team what to do. Even though you may see the problem first, you may see the solution first, you say “Hey, take thirty seconds”, (thirty minutes, thirty days, whatever you can) , “go work on it and come back, then tell me what you intend to do.”

It might not seem like you’re making progress, but what’s happening is, you’re building your team’s leadership muscle. They’re building their independence from you, they’re building their ability to make decisions, and they’re building their leadership.

So where you want to be is a Know All, but Tell Not leader.

I’m David Marquet, that’s your leadership nudge.

Leadership Nudge™ – Inject Blue Work

You can think of red work or blue work as the ‘kind of work you do over time’.

At the end of your workday, you will likely face a decision: “Do I go home? Do I go to the gym? Do I go to the pub?” That is blue work. You are making a decision.

You get in your car and as you drive there, you won’t stop at every intersection and revisit that decision. “Oh, am I going home or going to the pub?”

Blue work is the decision making work. It’s cognitive. It embraces variability. Red work is cognitively easy. Our brain can relax and we enter “auto-mode”. We reduce variability.

As an example, on the submarine, we would view tasks as a series of red work. During the course of regular tasks we might be scheduled to enter port at ten o’clock. Before entering port, we would have a briefing. Essentially, we were just reviewing everyone’s tasks. We didn’t view this as a decision process. We changed that. We canceled all the briefs and replaced it with what we called a “certification”. We said, “Look, let’s make a decision. Are we ready to come to port?” We turned this bit of red work into blue work. Instead of having a long series of red work, we injected blue work throughout the day, and that blue work is what activated people’s leadership.

For us, it was entering port, for you it might be starting a procedure in the operating room, pushing an airplane back from the gate and getting ready for a flight or firing up an important piece of equipment. The central idea is, inject “Blue Work”. Make a decision. Activate the cognitive part of the brain, and turn people into leaders.

I’m David Marquet and this is your leadership nudge.

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge – www.davidmarquet.com

Click here to read my Forbes article on mentoring programs and why you don’t want to have one.

Leadership Nudge™ – Invite Your Team To Yellow Card You

We all have areas where we want to improve. For me personally, these are things like listening or being more empathetic. A great way to help you improve is to invite your team to give you feedback; invite them to “Yellow Card” you.

You can hand out physical cards to your team and tell them “Hey, if you don’t feel like I was listening in that last encounter, push out the yellow card, just like in a soccer game”. (Football for our international friends).

You may find that they are reluctant to use the yellow card. They may feel like they are calling you out or that it’s embarrassing. Tell them, “Look, you are helping me. I want to get better, and when you yellowcard me, it helps me identify when I’m interacting poorly.”

Now here’s the thing: You’ll likely get yellowcarded when you’re under stress. You may be under pressure, didn’t sleep well, or eat well. Stress can push you down into your “reactive mode”. That’s when you may have poor interactions and your team will yellowcard you. This is where you will find it hard. You’re already stressed and you may be tempted to respond poorly to seeing the yellowcard.

Here’s what you do: Train yourself! When you see the yellowcard, take a breath and thank your team member. “Hey, thanks for yellowcarding me and giving me that feedback.”

Let us know how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge – www.davidmarquet.com

Click here to read my Forbes article on mentoring programs and why you don’t want to have one.

Increase the Blue Work

Leadership Nudge – Increase the Blue Work

In Leadership Nudge 127 we introduced the concept of red work and blue work. Blue work is decision work. It is cognitive work. It’s leadership work. Red work is execution. It’s the doing. It’s physical. It’s process. It’s compliant work.

One way to view your organization is to look at who is doing red work and who is doing blue work. In the very traditional industrial age organizational design you didn’t need a lot of people doing blue work. Most organizations had just one person at the top doing the blue work. They are deciding what we are going to make and how we are going to make it. Everyone else is doing what they are told.

One of the ideas behind red work and blue work is to increase the number of people doing blue work. Push blue work further down the organization. We build more leaders as we get more people thinking and more people involved in making decisions. We change our hierarchy from a little blue and a lot of to red to mostly blue!

Our Leadership Nudge to you this week is this:

Look at your organization to see who is doing red work, and who is doing the blue work. See if you can increase the amount of blue work that people are doing lower in the hierarchy.

Let us know what how it goes!

Enroll for the Leadership Nudge – www.davidmarquet.com

Click here to read my Forbes article on mentoring programs and why you don’t want to have one.

 

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