• Sam Decker

Career Tip #9: Feed Others

I learned a painful lessons early in my management career. It is foolish to try to control too much. First, I discovered I didn’t have all the right answers (amazing!). But more importantly, the company couldn’t get as much done, my employees didn’t learn, and they became unmotivated when I micro-managed or took over from where they left off.

Early in my career I had a web developer working for me who sent me a page he designed. Rather than making suggestions and letting him complete the project, I got into the code, made the changes myself and showed him the final product the way I wanted. I could see the frustration on his face, and a couple months later, he resigned. Perhaps every manager needs a jolting mistake like this to change behavior. It only needs to happen once.

A leader needs to seed and cultivate great people who will make their vision of producing something they own. I soon realized that there’s an entrepreneur in EVERYONE and a leader’s job is to create a structure so they can exercise that entrepreneurial spirit.

By the time I got to Dell I had learned this lesson, and as I built a team I got better and better at feeding others. I might feed them ideas, advice, tips, perspective, introductions, or whatever to help them accomplish. I put a goal out there and see how people find their way to reach it their way.

The reason this is career advice – as much as it is management advice – is that if you feed others you will accomplish more as a team. And accomplishment precedes responsibility.

Also, don’t just feed your people, feed other teams and functions. You may not credit for all the successes, but if you have good ideas, you will soon be discovered. Besides…good ideas make a company grow. Whether you execute them or not, if the company is growing, then you are growing.