Book Overview: According to J. Keith Murnighan, Great leaders don’t do anything—except think, make key decisions, help people do their jobs better, and add a touch of organizational control to make sure the final recipes come out okay. In sharp contrast, most leaders are too busy actually working to do these things—and their teams suffer as a result. Do Nothing!’s practical strategies and true stories will show you how to set high expectations for your team and watch it rise to the challenge. It will help you establish a healthier culture by trusting people more than they expect to be trusted. And it will help you overcome your natural tendencies toward micromanagement so you can let people do their jobs—even when you know you could do their jobs better.
Post(s) Inspired by this Book: Family First, Work Second. The Power of Family Values in Business.
A few years ago I presented a workshop on negotiation and decision-making strategies to the members of one of the Australian divisions of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). (This is a wonderful organization of young executives who can turn to one another for guidance, for advice, and sometimes just for an ear. They are also completely committed to learning as much as they can about leadership.) Several of the participants traveled from Western Australia to attend our sessions in Sydney, and I had several conversations with one of them.
He was a remarkably conscientious, self-aware leader, and our conversations touched on a variety of topics during the three days of the workshop. At one point he mentioned that he only hired people who put their family before their jobs; he didn’t want people in his organization if they put their jobs first. He felt strongly about this, saying that family-first people were the type of individuals he wanted to work with. He seemed both sincere and enlightened.
“You shouldn’t focus on outcomes so much. Focus instead on doing things right, on the best possible process, and on paying attention to what you can do rather than to what you can’t control.” ~ J. Keith Murnighan, Do Nothing!
“‘People don’t know how much you know until they know how much you care about them.’ You could be the world’s greatest expert on something but if the people you work with don’t know that you care about them, they won’t listen to you much.” ~ J. Keith Murnighan, Do Nothing!
“It is up to you as the leader to make sure that your team mebers feel safe. You must bend over backwards to make this happen, because team members know that their leaders are always evaluating them and they have perfectly natural fears about the outcome of those evaluations. You must work doubly hard to help them feel safe: you must treat your team members’ questions and observations as if you love hearing each and every one of them and you must entertain their ideas and even invite them to disagree with you. You must make it eminently clear that you want them to participate, to question, to comment, and to disagree – and you need to reinforce them when they do.” ~ J. Keith Murnighan, Do Nothing!
“Stated succinctly, partial trust sucks. When we know we have been trusted only partially, we naturally wonder, ‘Why didn’t he trust me more?’ This natural question reduces our motivation to reciprocate and leads to less long-term commitment to a leader, to a team, and to an organization. Partial trust sucks in many ways: it is the reverse of flattery and respect and it stimulates lousy outcomes, for everyone.” ~ J. Keith Murnighan, Do Nothing!
“Leaders need to keep a singular focus, each and every day, on their ultimate goals; they need to keep them at the front of their minds as they choose their actions and strategies. This seems so obvious but, at the same time, incredibly busy days when people are constantly asking for your attention make it easy to lose a central, goal-oriented focus. Thus, even something as simple as putting a Post-it note that describes your ultimate goals on the corner of your computer screen can help you keep focused and slow you down so that you can facilitate and orchestrate your team’s actions directly toward your ultimate goal.” ~ J. Keith Murnighan, Do Nothing!
“Not only do we often find what we are looking for in people, we sometimes create what we are looking for in people.” ~ J. Keith Murnighan, Do Nothing!
“Leadership Law: Think of the reaction that you want first, then determine the actions you can take to maximize the chances that those reactions will actually happen.” ~ J. Keith Murnighan, Do Nothing!
“Doing too much is far worse than doing too little. When leaders do too much, they cannot be as effective or as thoughtful or as strategic as they might otherwise be. Even worse, their team members are underutilized and underchallenged. Better team members are also likely to be increasingly angry – because their leader is doing what they could and should and want to be doing. By not letting good performers do their jobs, on their own, leaders don’t allow their team members to feel proud of what they can do. The end result is the development of dislike or even hate for a leader who butts in, as well as earning him a reputation for being a control freak and a micromanager.” ~ J. Keith Murnighan, Do Nothing!