July 23, 2018

Below is a lesson from Forbes on creating your leadership user’s manual to help team members work best together, as well as our key learning.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.


How To Create Your Leadership User’s Manual

Kevin Kruse, Contributor

July 1, 2018

I’ve long been captivated by the idea of creating a leadership “user’s manual.”

The basic idea is that managers should create a short guide to their personality, work style and, yes, even quirks, so that their direct reports would know how to best work with them. I also suspected that this kind of “user’s manual” would serve as a good reminder to myself about my unique traits. (“What’s my MBTI? Oh, I’m an I,N…uh, T…hmmm.”)

I first heard of this “user manual” idea when I read Adam Bryant’s 2014 article in the New York Times called, “Want to Know Me? Just Read My User Manual” in which CEO Ivar Kroghrud described how he created a one-page “user manual” so his team would know how to best work with him. Adam Bryant later expanded on this idea in his article, “What If You Had to Write a ‘User Manual’ About Your Leadership Style?”

Recently I hired a new head of customer success and decided I need to stop thinking about it, and actually take the time to do it. How could I quickly get him comfortable with me? At LEADx we’re a remote-first culture so the normal kind of lunches and office cooler talk are not ways in which new hires can learn the idiosyncrasies of the boss.

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Key learnings:

  • The basic idea is that managers should create a short guide to their personality, work style and, yes, even quirks, so that their direct reports would know how to best work with them.
  • Serve as a good reminder to self of unique talents and traits.
  • Make it look interesting and fun to read.
  • Most people doing this exercise just reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and some quirks they have self-awareness of
  • Some examples of topics to include:
    • MBTI
    • Big 5 Personality
    • Insights Discovery
    • CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder)
    • Strengths and Weaknesses from the above profiles in narrative form
    • Vision or Mission Statement (personal)
  • Understanding your deeper motivation or long-term goal can truly make a difference in your relationship
  • When it came to strengths and weaknesses there is an inherent problem in that most of us have very low self-awareness. Do you just think you know your weaknesses or are there some level of objectivity to it? Look at personality assessments, comments from prior annual/peer reviews, or ask your friends.
  • There can be no great leadership or team performance without a foundation of trust. And vulnerability builds trust. If I share my weaknesses, my developmental areas, and my past failures you will know I’m not BS’ing you on the other stuff. And you will be more likely to be honest and forthcoming with me. Leadership manual is a great way to get vulnerability into the culture of the team.
  • You have quirks to your preferred work style. Are you a morning person, should you be left alone until your second cup of coffee? Do you welcome walk-in’s to break up the drudgery of the day, or despise being interrupted? Does your closed door mean don’t knock unless the building is on fire, or go ahead and knock you just wanted some quiet?
  • Most of the user’s manuals I found online included a section of “Do’s” and “Don’ts.” Or, “Warnings” and “Known Defects”.
  • Everyone could create one, not just the boss. We should all have a one-sheet to remind ourselves and to share with others the best way to work with us.
  • Serves as a reminder of your own unique profile, and catalyzed a conversation with your team about work styles and how you can all work together to maximize team outcomes.

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