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Redesigning Leadership

Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life

By John Maeda
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Redesigning Leadership by John Maeda

Redesigning Leadership (2011) takes the jargon out of management and replaces it with a human touch. Being a great leader means taking to the shop (or office) floor, making contact with your employees and – most importantly – keeping their focus and respect. The author offers simple ways to be a manager who retains their principles – and heart.

Key idea 1 of 6

Creative and successful leaders manage by being mobile.

How often do you see the head of your department walking around the workplace? Rare occurrence? Department heads usually stay in their offices unless they have to come out to lead meetings.

That means they don’t connect with their employees very much – they just keep in touch through periodic meetings and reports. But you’ll never truly understand your business and how it can be improved until you form strong connections with the people you work with. You need to get out of your office and interact with the people under you. In other words, you need to manage by walking around.

The author did this when he first got his post as the president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He wanted to know everything about the school, so he left the office and got to know the people in the departments around him. He brought them food and even helped the new students carry their luggage when they moved in, among other things.

This style of personal management doesn’t mean taking over other people’s jobs, however. If you get too invested in working right alongside your employees, you might end up accidentally taking someone’s work from them, or making all the important decisions yourself, so your team members have nothing to do but the menial tasks. That will make them feel useless, as they won’t be contributing much to the team. Leaders need to lead, after all!

A manager has to find the balance between working with their employees and giving them their space.

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