How To Work Less & Accomplish More

Does the coaching style of management transcend different generations? Or are there different micro strategies for a millennial versus a boomer?

There are a bunch of hypotheses about how leading millennials is different from x’ers or boomers and there’s also a bunch of hypotheses saying they’re all the same. And here’s what I can tell you on a basic brain science level. Five times a second, every brain, no matter how old or young it is, is asking one fundamental question–is it safe here or is it dangerous? Is it a place of risk or is it a place of reward? And as it scans the environment making this subconscious decision five times a second, there are four different factors. And the four factors are the acronym TERA. The ‘T’ stands for tribal-ness–so are you with me or against me? The ‘E’ stands for expectations–do I know what’s about to happen or do I not know? ‘R’ stands for rank–am I more or less important than you? And ‘A’ stands for autonomy–am I making the decisions here or are you making them for me?

Here’s what’s really powerful about asking questions: It increases the TERA quotient. Their sense of tribalness goes up, their sense of rank goes up, their sense of autonomy goes up, just because you’re asking the question. And by doing that, you get a smarter, more engaged person you’re working with and managing.

So I think it’s more obvious in millennials that they don’t want to be told what to do. They want to be treated more as partners. They want to be allowed to figure some stuff out on their own. But the truth is, we all have that wiring. It’s just part of our brain science. We all want a sense of autonomy or a sense you’ve got somebody at your back and not beating over your head–that you’ve got some status and you’re not just being told what to do. That all helps.

Why should someone who is currently spending a lot of money or recently spent a lot of money on an MBA from a top B-school pick up a copy of your book and read it?

That is a very fine question. My experience working with leaders of all ages, across all ranks, across all industries, around the world, is that the hunger to be the expert, the hunger to know the answer is a powerful one. And it’s inculcated in our education and it’s inculcated in the way that we work. I haven’t done an MBA myself, but my guess would be that it’s about increasing your level of expertise. When I think of MBAs that I know, they are smart and they know stuff. So you’re being trained to be the expert. There is absolutely a place to be the expert. I’m not saying to never give anybody advice again.

However, way back in the year 2000, emotional intelligence was popularized. It exploded out of a Harvard Business Review article called Leadership That Gets Results. the article said what’s interesting is there is not one style of leadership–there are six styles of leadership. And actually, great leaders know how to use all six. But typical leaders know how to use only two or three. Coaching, even back then, was the least utilized of the leadership skills. So even with all of the knowledge you’re bringing with you from the MBA training you’re having or you recently had, adding a way of understanding coaching–or really just being more coach-like–can help. If you can do two things–slow down the rush to give advice and stay curious longer and slow down the rush to action, that’s actually going to help you and those you lead focus on the stuff that matters and have more impact in the long run.

What value do these techniques and ideas have for someone at a lower or mid-management level?

You don’t start being a coach when you hit a certain level of the office hierarchy and say, ‘OK, now I have to be coach-like.’ In our experience, everybody benefits when people are a little slower on the rush to action and being more curious just a little bit longer. The way we make money as a company is we train managers and leaders on how to coach in 10 minutes or less. We do a lot of work with so-called individual contributors, because when they’re working with their peers or they’re working with their venders or customers, these seven questions can be effective with one of them as it can with someone on your actual team.


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