Morning Leadership is an excellent book written about several broad aspects of leadership. David Cottrell uses a simple dialogue between Jeff and his mentor, Tony, to keep the book interesting, easy to read, and informational. To effectively summarize and report on this book I will look at the different ideas Cottrell presents separately. Jeff finds himself caught in a rut and turns to an acquaintance from the past for help. Tony agrees to help Jeff as long as Jeff will commit to meeting Tony over the next eight weeks and teach what he learns to others.
Over the eight weeks Jeff meets with Tony he discovers several new approaches that help him overcome deficiencies in his leadership and management skills. The first section “Drivers and Passengers” focuses on how to take responsibility. Jeff finds himself blaming anything or anybody other than himself for his teams’ failures and shortcomings at work. Tony presents Jeff with the idea that everything that happens in Jeff life can be accounted for by a decision Jeff has made. Jeff needs to take responsibility for everything that happens to his team; only than can he begin to make the transition from manager to leader.
Tony also stresses that being in a leadership role means that you have to support the organization as a whole and not allow yourself to criticize decisions that are being made above you. The second lesson that Tony teaches Jeff is “Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing. ” This basically means that you have to prioritize what’s most important in getting the teams’ job done. Communicating your priorities to your team clearly is essential to getting the job done right. At the same time a manager needs to communicate with his or her superior to know what’s expected out of him or her ND what he or she expects out their superior.
The third idea is “Escape from Management Land”. A leader can’t get caught up in all the action that is going around him or her. He or she has to clearly communicate their expectations to each member of a team. At the same time a leader has to help the development of a team member’s career. A leader can’t always focus on improving only the weakest member of the team. Instead of lowering the bar, push the bar upward by coaching even the strongest team member. The fourth idea is the “Do Right Rule”.
This is in essence will be reiterated wrought Officer Candidate School when we say “An Officer Candidate will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do. ” Even when no one is looking a leader should always make the decision that is right, not the easiest. In Jeff case he had to fire Todd for drinking although none of Jeff team had knowledge that Jeff had caught Todd in the act. Tony sums it up nicely when he presents the idea that a persons’ integrity is the most valuable thing a person has. Tony also presents the idea of contingency planning.
A difficult decision is not a decision at al when a plan has been previously been made. In “Hire Tough” Tony presents the idea of picking the right people. Selecting the right people for the job is important. When selecting a person for a specific job it is important to be prepared and have people that you trust to consult with. Tony also tells Jeff not to lower his standards to get results in the short term. Long term results are more difficult to obtain, but if you stick to high standards and having the right people for the job they are obtainable. Tony and Jeff sixth meeting focused on “Do Less or Work Faster.
This meeting focused on time management. Tony offers Jeff several suggestions that basic boil down to a few key points. Staying organized will lead to more productivity and less confusion. Making a decision on marginal things right away will lead to more productivity and less time wasted. The other main point is punctuality. Being on time for a meeting or event can save minutes if not hours on wasted productivity. Tony teaches Jeff in “Buckets and Dipper” two main concepts of leadership. First, you have to rely on your team as much as they have to rely on you if not ore.
As a leader you are only one person and can only get fraction of the overall work done while your team can get almost all the work done without you. Second, Tony teaches Jeff that you have to keep your team motivated constantly. As a leader you have to creatively keep individual motivated. Rewards like pay and time-off and punishments like counseling statements and threatening the loss of a job don’t always work. The more motivated you keep your team the more motivated you’ll be. The last meeting Jeff and Tony have is “Enter the Learning Zone. Tony relates hat leaders don’t stay content with where they are at. They need to continuously learn by reading or experiencing new things. Tony also teaches that setting goals is important for leaders. Without having an idea for where you’re going, it will be nearly impossible to go anywhere. David Cottrell does a great job of breaking down the key aspects of leadership through the dialogue between Jeff and Tony. Just by reading the simple story of Jeff and his mentor I can think of, expand on, and hopefully display some of the leadership values that are taught.