business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Interesting interview in the New York Times yesterday with Laurel J. Richie, president of the WNBA, in which she discussed her management/leadership style. In one passage - which seems resonant in terms of recent retailing news - she talked about the importance of communicating to the troops:

"I keep learning time and time again about how important it is as a leader to have a clear vision and communicate it often. I’m usually very clear in my head about where I think we should be going, and I’m always learning that you cannot overcommunicate that. I get a little bored with it because it’s familiar to me, but I realize it almost has to become a mantra so that everyone on the team knows where you’re headed ... You tell people, 'here’s where we’re headed and these are our priorities,' and then you just sense how often people are wandering. I always say that part of the job is keeping all the bunnies in the box. You start with all the bunnies in the box and then somebody gets a great idea to go do something else and you go help them all come back and get in line and then a bunny over here pops out. So the more the bunnies are getting out of the box, the more I realize I just haven’t done a good enough job communicating what our priorities are and what our focus should be."

Richie goes on to say that "I want people coming in every day thinking this is a place where they can bring their very best, and I believe that if they feel that way, they will actually do it. I just don’t believe in terrorizing, intimidating, testing, catching people off guard. I don’t play games. Life’s too short, and we’ve got too much to do. I want people focusing on the work, not on how to navigate politics. I never want people sitting in their offices or their cubes thinking, 'What does she really mean or what does she really want?  What is she really asking?'  That’s just wasted time to me. That’s why to me, it’s my job to create an environment where they can bring their best selves, and good things will happen as a result."

This is an important notion, I think ... that if everyone on the team is not moving in the same direction, working on the same goals, then it may be because the CEO has not communicated them clearly and passionately enough. In the end, that ought to be a primary responsibility of the CEO...and one of the things on which he or she is judged...
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