Book Review - Start Everything Finish Nothing
I recently read Start Everything Finish Nothing by Rolfe G Arnhym after meeting Rolfe earlier this year. Rolfe had an exceptional military and post retirement career and this book shares his experiences while providing a lot of leadership lessons. Below are my top 5 takeaways from Rolfe's book.
1. "I require a to-do report. It has three sections in it. The first section are those top five priorities for next week, the second is what they got done and what they did not get done, and third is any questions that they have of me or if they need to meet with me or something is not clear and they need additional guidance." My comments - The "to do" report may seem basic but it is fundamental to three aspects of leadership. Those aspects are communication, accountability and guidance. Rolfe's simple "to do" structure assures all three.
2. "Delegation failures tend to happen because we haven’t done the necessary advance work. What is the advance work? Preparing people to take on the tasks we delegate to them. Almost all businesses are woefully weak in training their people to improve their existing skill sets or get them to the next level. The reasons are legion: no money, can’t tolerate lost time, or worst of all, someone will steal your best talent." My comments - Amen!
3. "Above all, don’t get angry with an under-performing employee. By the way, when I was angry, I was always a dead giveaway: my face turned red and I couldn’t stop it. Before you lose your temper, ask yourself several questions: “Did I give them sufficient guidance and instruction?” “Did I constantly communicate with them and did they hear what I said?” “Did I open up opportunities to train them and to prepare them for the requirements that I had set for them?”" My comments - One of the things I learned from a great NASA leader was that when someone made a mistake, instead of criticizing that person, he would say "What did we do as leaders that put this good person in a position that they made a mistake?" Accountable leaders recognize they play a role in the mistakes or under-performance of individuals that work for them and this must be understood.
4. "Many CEOs believe they have leadership teams, when all they have are direct reports – two to three people, or even five to eight, who represent the various disciplines needed by a modern organization: sales, marketing, IT, finance, whatever." My comments - I have found this to be true of most leaders at all levels. This is because their is inadequate time and attention spent on team building/development.
5. "At 11: 00 a.m., I ask, “Is there’s something that I’m doing that somebody else should be doing?” At 4: 00 p.m., I ask, “What is it that I came in here to do today that was not done?" My comments - When you are the leader it is easy to get distracted, redirected or involved in something where your participation isn't the best use of your time. These two questions help you ensure you are working on what is most important for the organization.
In addition to the many takeaways the value of networking and relationship building is woven throughout the book.
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