Shield Your People So That They Can Be Brilliant

Protect your people and they'll walk through fire for you. (Excerpt from Unite The Tribes: Leadership Skills for Technology Managers)

A leader's job isn't to boss people around, it's to bring out their best. You're part strategist, part organizer, part cheerleader. How you look in a poodle skirt is a topic best left for another day. Of all your responsibilities, however, none are more important than your role as protector.

The corporate world is one long exercise in unnecessary distractions. Where the maze of bureaucratic nuisance leaves off, petty office politics take over. From meetings and mindless paperwork to the back room scheming of the ethically challenged, it's a wonder anything ever gets done. Often, it doesn't.

As a leader, it's your responsibility to stand between your people and the idiotic things that chew up their time. They rarely have the authority to refuse. You do, and so you must. Think of yourself as the secret service. Your people don't take a bullet for you. You take one for them. You have to keep them safe from corporate stupidity so that they can do their job for you.

When your group sees that you've got their backs, a number of positive things will happen. Without a doubt they'll be more productive because less of their time will be wasted. However, the benefit goes much deeper than that. As you bring your people together and build a sense of unity and esprit de corps, you're also generating a well earned loyalty. Nothing intensifies that feeling like seeing someone go to bat for you. If you ever find yourself in a tight spot, look over your shoulder and don't be surprised to see each and every one of your people, armed to the teeth and ready to back you up. You don't get that by issuing orders. It's something you earn by looking out for others.

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