“Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.”– Dwight D. Eisenhower
How to Stop Your Boss From Turning You Into a Human Suggestion Box
I have a reputation for being a pain in the ass. As a founder of or major investor in many businesses, I am constantly sending CEOs memos about new product ideas, new marketing strategies, new management protocols, etc., etc., etc.
The usual response is polite agreement, followed by an explanation of why they are already doing “something like that.” (They rarely are.) Or why they are currently too busy to take it on.
Of course, this doesn’t make me back off. On the contrary, it makes me wonder how on top of their game they really are. And so I keep pushing.
And they dream of a day when I drop dead or at least suffer a stroke that makes it impossible for me to send any more emails.
Here’s the thing. I don’t expect every suggestion I make to be executed. I understand how much CEOs of growing businesses have to deal with every day. But I am not going to refrain from making suggestions because it stresses them out. My obligation is not to them or their employees. It is to the quality and quantity of products and services the business produces. In other words, my interest is in increasing the value we bring to customers.
Recently, though, one of my CEOs did a very smart thing. Tired of circumventing my emails, she began sending me her suggestions. I think she decided to give me a taste of my own medicine to see how I liked it… and, well, I liked it very much.
Some of her suggestions were terrific and I told her that. More importantly, she demonstrated that she was fully committed to the same goals and objectives I had – to make the business all it could be.
I’ll continue to send suggestions to all my CEOs – but in her case, I no longer feel the urgency. I’ve been able to relax a bit and enjoy her momentum.
What she did reminded me of something I did about 30 years ago, working for JSN. He was constantly putting monkeys on my back, and I wasted far too much time trying to explain to him why I could only handle so much. Then one day I somehow caught his bug and began coming up with ideas myself. I got so good at it that he stopped pushing me and let me push myself.