By JIM KENDALL
This material originally appeared as one of Jim’s Daily Herald columns
I don’t know Lee Eisenstaedt that well, but we have broken bread a few times and had several interesting conversations about business and management. He is founder and CEO, Value Drivers LLC, a Chicago consultancy where business management topics come up fairly often.
I rarely review business books – though I think being able to hand a client or prospect a copy of a book you have written can be a big plus in the business development process.
Those two points made, and with the caveat that I think much of Eisenstaedt’s new book, “Being a Leader with Courage,” is written more for people moving into C-level slots (CEO, COO, CIO and the like) at businesses that tend toward the large end of small than for the small business owner who by definition fills all those positions, there are some thought gems in the text we all should ponder.
* Here’s one, defined by Eisenstaedt as Four Words Every CEO Must Learn to Say: What do you think?
Think about that. Asking the question almost compels you to at least consider the answer, maybe defend the idea that led to the question, possibly improve it, and, likely, take an action.
I pointed out that an entrepreneur asking the question needed at least one other person in the business, but Eisenstaedt countered that a solopreneur could, for example, ask “What do you think?” of a customer or supplier.
Score one for the author, who suggests an interesting follow-up to the question, too: Anything else? “Keep asking until the person runs out of things to tell you,” Eisenstaedt says.
* Another thought gem: How long do you, the boss, stick with an underperformer? Staying too long with an employee who’s clearly out of place “erodes your credibility, undermines your authority and ultimately subverts your success,” Eisenstaedt writes.
Although my first focus was on employees, Eisenstaedt extends the underperforming category issue to include suppliers and customers as well.
* “You want to think that everyone is on the same page you are, but you are probably wrong,” Eisenstaedt says in his book – which is based on interviews Eisenstaedt conducted with 30 C-level executives. “Nobody that works for you is willing to tell you the exact and total truth. You need to be observant, a good listener and trust your gut.”
* Have the courage to say, “I’m wrong. I’m sorry,” or “I don’t know.”
* It’s easy for an entrepreneur to become overwhelmed by the inevitable list of things to do, but Eisenstaedt suggests a way out of the dilemma. “Share your list of pending activities, projects and commitments with a trusted associate,” he writes. “Ask which (one) he, or she, would like to help you with.
“Make sure you both understand the deliverables and your expectations. (Then) get out of the way and let (your associate) take those tasks off your plate.”
© 2016 Kendall Communications Inc. Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write him at Jim@kendallcom.com. Listen to Jim’s Business Owners’ Pod Talk at www.kendallcom.com/podcast.