Sunday, May 26, 2013

"What do you think?"

These could be the four most important words in management and leadership.  From an interview with Bill Marriott, Jr. in The New York Times today - What Eisenhower Taught Me About Decision-Making:

"In 1954, I had just finished Supply Corps School and came home for Christmas to our farm in Virginia.  Dad's best friend at the time was Ezra Taft Benson, who was secretary of agriculture and latter became president of the L.D.S. church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  And he invited Ike and Mamie Eisenhower.  So here's the president and the secretary of agriculture, here's my father, and here I am.  They wanted to take Ike to shoot some quail, but it was cold and the wind was blowing like crazy.  My dad said, "Should we go shoot quail or should we stand by the fire?"

And Eisenhower turned around and looked at me and he said, "What do you think we should do?"

That made me realize how he go along with de Gaulle, Churchill, Roosevelt and others - by including them in the decision and asking them what they thought.  So I tried to adopt that style of management as I progressed in lift, by asking my people, "What do you think?"  Now, I didn't always go with what they thought.  But I felt that I included them in the decision-making process, and asked them what they thought, and I listened to what they had to say and considered it, they usually got on board because they knew they'd been respected and heard, even if I went in a different direction than what they were recommending."

The decision on hunting?  They stayed by the fire.

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