Delegate More! Getting rid of monkeys

Insurance Policy Pays Off

The third Monday morning George shows up with his decision, and I say, "George, have you made your decision?" He says, "Yes." I say, "What is it?" "Oh,” he says, "I have it written up," which is quite a triumph for him because never having made it very far in school when he first came to work, writing was not among his strong points. So he shows me his decision. It's type­written, triple-spaced. (The very fact that it's triple-spaced should tell you how much confidence he's got in it!) And when I look at it, I thank my lucky stars (as I wipe my brow) that I had this decision covered with insurance, because if I hadn't, he and I would already be on the street pushing resumes. That's how incredibly stupid this decision is. But I don't talk to him that way. I'm not in the business of tearing men down; I'm in the business of building them up."

Watch That Monkey

So instead, I say to him, "George, this is a very interesting decision." (A perfectly true statement; just an understatement: it's incredible!) "George, have you talked to the Accounting people about this?" He replies, "Wait a minute, Stancombe. Wait a minute! Are you trying to tell me this decision is wrong?" I say, "Yes, George. I'm trying to tell you this is wrong." He says, "Okay then, Stancombe: what's right?" Now which of the five freedoms did he lead from? He's asking me what's right. He's leading from freedom number four! You didn't see it? It takes practice to spot these monkeys poised in mid-trajectory. I reply, "George, if I knew the answer to that question, what would I be paying you for?"  

"I have a strength, George, for which I am known throughout this company. It's an uncanny knack that I have for spotting a wrong decision at sight. Since you and I are going to be working with each other for the next few years, why don't you pick for a strength one that complements mine, namely, the ability consistently to come up with right decisions? Our complementary strengths would then weld us into an unbeatable team."

Joining Hands in Partnership

As we shake hands on that, I say, "Now, then, when will you talk to the Accounting Department about this?" He says, "I'll see them this afternoon." "When will you be back with your decision as it will then appear?" He says, "Tomorrow at nine." So I leaf my appointment calendar ahead exactly one day and write, "Nine a.m. Be here - George will be back with his decision (version No. 2)." I'm sure you know why I'm put­ting that appointment on my calendar pad. It is not for coercive purposes. Instead, it's to enable him to know the precise time tomorrow after which he will be insubordinate if he either (1) doesn't show up or (2) shows up with nothing.
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