Training Wheels: “Be Of Service”

Entrepreneurship Leadership + Management Training Wheels
Training Wheels | Management
Jimmy Iovine

During a Howard Stern interview, Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records and Beats Electronics, explained that one reason he’s achieved so much success is his willingness to “be of service” to the stars he’s worked with. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of them – John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Dr. Dre,  and Bruce Springsteen (who threw Jimmy’s mix of Born To Run into a pool) to name a few.

It’s a deceivingly simple concept that all businesses can benefit from applying. But it goes much further than just business-to-consumer. I think there’s an incredible amount of value to applying this concept to the internal workings of a business also. Over the next couple weeks I’ll be addressing ways that you can “be of service” INSIDE your business to increase productivity, influence company culture, empower your employees, and better address your customer needs.

"Be Of Service"

Employees don’t leave Companies, they leave Managers.

In 2017, a Gallop poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses and not the position itself. Brigette Hyacinth has a great article about the four types of bosses that make employees want to quit. I’m not going to address all those bad boss types, suffice to say that all of them exhibit traits where they are not “of service” to their teams.

Let me know take a moment to point out that leadership and management are NOT the same. People often interchange them but there is a clear distinction between a manager and a leader. They are not mutually exclusive, but they are two different things. People have written entire books on the subject, but I look at it as simple as managers are appointed a position that utilize process and positional authority to achieve success while leaders inspire action, regardless of position, and develop growth and improvement through alignment of purpose and motivation.

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Ways You Can "Be Of Service"

Radical Candor 

Coined by Kim Scott, “radical candor”, is the idea that feedback (good or bad) is best given as close to the observed behavior as possible. It’s not waiting for a quarterly or annual review to give feedback on a sales pitch that someone botched or a client meeting that someone nailed. I first heard about this concept on the Growth Show podcast and the host best summarized it as IMMEDIACY, SPECIFICITY, and CLARITY.

Get Feedback

Managers are not immune to improvement or feedback. And in the spirit of “being of service” asking your employees can provide valuable information and insight as to how you can improve your business and better manage them.

What should you ask?

The questions you ask depends on what you’re trying to improve, but I’ve found the below list of questions good starting points. You can pick and choose to your liking, but remember, people will most likely have different answers and that’s a good thing. 

  • How do you want to be rewarded?
  • How do you work best?
  • What don’t you like about my management style?
  • What can I do to make your job easier?
  • What’s the biggest hassle in your job?
  • What could we do to improve overall results or make the department/company/business more effective?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our department/company/business?
  • What is one thing you are struggling with?

An important thing to remember when asking these questions – be prepared to be surprised, to take action, and to design plans to address the feedback. Asking these questions will most likely challenge you to mold your management style.

Train Your Replacement

Shitty managers hold on to their authority and institutional knowledge with a death grip.

Great leaders grow and empower other up-and-coming leaders. This is not to say that you abandon your post to ANY employee, but if you have someone who’s hungry, you’ll know. Developing others is not only a behavior that will benefit others – it is a personal challenge that you too will continue to evolve your contributions, skills, and career.

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