Beware the Sound of Laughter

Tom Peters writes on his blog about General Norman Schwarzkopf’s autobiography.  He quotes the general as saying that he’s terrible at telling jokes, but as soon as he became a general, everyone suddenly started laughing uproariously at his stories.  Schwartzkopf’s and Peters’ point is this:  "Once you become a boss you’ll never hear the unadulterated truth again."

It applies whether you have 10,000 employees or just 1.  As "the boss" everything you hear from your associates come through a filter.  Does it mean your people are lying to you?  Of course not.  But it does mean that they speak to you differently than they do to each other.  They’re just not quite as open.  They don’t want to upset "the boss".  They don’t want to be the bearer of bad news.

The solution?  Spend time on the front line.  Become a keen observer.  Peters mentions MBWA, managing by walking around.  It’s a good strategy no matter how many people you have working for you.  Face it, sometimes we even lie to ourselves.

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