Give Poeple Wings, Not Keep Under Your Wings

Bad leaders keep people dependent on them. Great leaders unleash people

Bad managers, good managers, great managers. What’s the difference? I understood the distinction when I was 18 years old. I worked at FedEx Ground, and I was protected by my Manager because I made him look good as a result of my breaking rules that hadn’t been broken but were bottlenecks to unrealized value; I unlocked that value by systematically breaking them!

As a result of the attention and power I gained from creating new value, a group of managers saw me as a threat. But instead of pushing me to do more (only one of them did), they started acting as if I were doing them a favor and wanted to keep me under control.

It didn’t work!

The one guy who did push / challenged me to do more was the guy I hung out with the most because we had that communication. He never once told me to take it easy, to do less; he told me in his own words: “Carpe Diem!”

He was an ex-NAVY SEAL, that might have been why he encouraged me.

Bad leaders keep people dependent on them. Great leaders unleash people.

To me, bad leaders keep people dependent on them; it’s part of what feeds their ego. I’ve always kept my FedEX Ground experience close to my heart because I learned a lot when I was very young. My leadership style has evolved since then, but one thing I learned quickly back then is that I’m all about unleashing people.

Last week I was talking to an employee who’s been with our company 1 month. He expressed his feelings on wanting to grow with us, and how he wants to learn more and more. This is what I told him: We’re creating an environment where people are unleashed; not trapped. I want to see people grow beyond their current roles, and if they stay with us great; if they don’t, that’s great too.

That last part hit him, he asked why?

Because I want our company to be a great place to be from. That way if he / she goes to another company, they’ll see them as exceptional people because they worked with us.

Again, unleash; not trap.

I’m a firm believer that a company grows as its people grow. So you put a limit on your company’s potential if you put a limit on people’s potential. A leader’s job is to create the conditions where people can thrive, and to create other leaders.

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