April 17, 2016

#AndyTalks 035 – The biggest mistake (part 1)

In this video I talk about the biggest management and business development mistake – that I see at any rate.

It was explained to me on a Business Development course I was on in 2010.

Since then I’ve seen this mistake cause all sorts of problems within businesses, and indeed our daily lives.

Once you understand it, you’ll see it’s symptoms everywhere.


I’ve just been in the forum, thefastlaneforum, answering a few questions. Somebody was asking for recommendations for leadership books. I don’t remember reading any books on leadership specifically, but I posted a few of my favorite phrases that are related. One is, “To criticize in private and praise in public.” which I suppose is more of a management quote rather than a leadership one. I still think it’s relevant to leadership because leadership involves a lot of mentoring and coaching, and getting people who follow you up to your level. That’s the whole point.

My kids are next door again playing on Minecraft or watching YouTube for kids. I mentioned this in a snap a few days ago, a video a few days ago. To get kids, and probably adults to take the actions that you’d like them to take it’s better to “catch them when they’re good”. To praise them when they do something well, and to ignore them when they do something bold (that’s the Irish way of saying “naughty”).

Another really important, probably the most important, tip about leadership is to lead with the WHY and not to lead with the HOW.

Imagine a scenario where you go out to your guys and tell them, “4 o’clock I want you to take this brush and clean that yard.” 5 o’clock your biggest customer comes around and you’re doing a tour of the factory. You go out the the yard and it’s filthy. Plastic wrapping floating around in the wind. Those little polystyrene balls as well. This big client doesn’t do another big order and your business is struggling.

Well, the person that made the mistake was you. It’s always the boss anyway. You made a big mistake. You told your staff HOW to get a task done. You said that “4 o’clock, take this broom, go sweep the yard.” That didn’t work out so well for you, did it?

Whereas, you could have told your guys, “We have a really important customer coming around at 5 o’clock. We need this order. I will take them on a tour of the factory and out here into the yard which is a bit of a mess. I don’t mind how you do it, but can you please make it as clean as possible.”

Not only do your guys know WHAT needs done and WHY, which is great for motivating people and getting them on your side, you’ve given them the ability to choose the best HOW to get that what and why done.

Now they can say, “Let’s not use a broom lads, let’s use that jet spray, steam cleaner thing that we got last week. That delivery that’s coming in at half past 4 that’s going to take us 20 minutes to unload, it’s going to leave a mess of plastic wrapping and those little white polystyrene things all over the yard. Well, that’s not needed today. Why don’t we shift it a couple days, reschedule it.”

See how much better that is? You as the business owner didn’t know that they had a new steam cleaner for the yard. You as the business owner didn’t know there was going to be a big delivery after 4 0’clock. YOU screwed up by telling them, “4 o’clock go out with a broom and sweep up.”

I was in a management development course back in 2010, maybe 2009. This was the topic of one of the whole sessions. The title of the session was, “The Biggest Management Mistake” and this is what we discussed.

As a manager, the leader of your business, the biggest mistake you will make is to tell people HOW to do things instead of telling them WHAT you want done and WHY. If you really want to get results from your team, then you need to trust them to know how to do it. There’s another saying, “You don’t get a dog, and bark yourself.”

Actually, I just remembered this story that the business mentor told in that session. It’s a good one. I’ll talk about it later on once I remember it fully and have my breakfast.

“The biggest management / leadership mistake is to tell people HOW to do things, instead of telling them WHAT you want done, and WHY…”

Honestly I think I could talk all week about the way people tangle themselves up my mistaking what and why with how.

(There’s a fly in my tea!)

I’ve got a few new followers in the last few days. Thanks very much for following me, new people. To the people that haven’t been following for that long, I’ve been posting a lot of my Snapchat stories up to YouTube into the #AndyTalks channel.

There was a day back in February where I was talking about leadership as well. I’ll just post how to get to it. Google for “#andytalks 009”