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GRANTED: What leaders get wrong about management and how to embrace curiosity and humility
Things I wish leaders would stop saying:
“People are the most valuable asset in our company.”
No, people *are* your company.
“I only hire people smarter than me.”
It reveals confidence and humility—but also a narrow, fixed view of intelligence. You don't need to work with the smartest person in the room. You need to work with the person whose strengths are your weaknesses.
“The difference between leaders and managers is...”
I have yet to meet a great leader who’s a terrible manager. A bold vision goes nowhere without setting clear expectations, involving people in decisions, and giving actionable feedback. The most underrated leadership skill is management.
Here are my favorite reads from the past month that might help leaders become better managers:
1. Why Curiosity Matters
Curiosity fuels creativity, reduces confirmation bias, and prevents stereotyping. But the more we emphasize efficiency, the less curious people become. We need to make time to ask "What if?" and "How might we?"
2. The Best Bosses are Humble Bosses
Humility makes us less likely to become leaders but more likely to be effective leaders. Instead of falling for narcissists who aggrandize themselves and degrade others, bet on humble leaders who criticize themselves and praise others.
3. The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain
To avoid repeating past mistakes, run a postmortem: debrief on what went wrong. To avoid making new mistakes, run a premortem: imagine a project has gone wrong, and explain why. Anticipating reasons for failures can help prevent them.
4. Brain Teasers in Job Interviews Mainly Reveal the Sadistic Traits of the Interviewer
We already knew that brain teasers aren't valid questions in job interviews, but new evidence shows that the managers who pose them tend toward narcissism and sadism. So the next time an interviewer asks you why manhole covers are round, you can answer with a brain teaser of your own: "What do narcissists and sadists have in common?
From My Desk:
5. How to Get Employees to Empathize with Customers
If necessity is the mother of invention, the necessities of customers are the mother of innovation. IDEO’s Erin Henkel and I explore how to design empathy experiences that encourage employees to go beyond thinking like the customer and actually become the customer.
6. How to Argue Your Way to a Stronger Marriage
My wife Allison and I couldn’t agree on how to start this article, let alone finish it. So we used it as an excuse to write about how to have more constructive arguments.
Finally: we're working on season 2 of WorkLife, my TED podcast, which will drop in the winter. As we start to plan our bonus episodes, who would you most want to hear me talk with? It could be a conversation or a debate, like I did with Malcolm Gladwell last season. If you have any favorite candidates, I'd love to see your nominations here.