When I talked with Mike Figliuolo about Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results, the book he wrote with Victor Prince, he invoked his experience as platoon leader in the Army.
The Mike Figliuolo Private Smith Rule
“When I was in the Army, a new Private would show up one day and say, ‘I’m Private Smith, I’m reporting for duty.’ The Department of the Army had assigned him to you. So it’s not like you can just say, ‘well, it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out. I’m going to just fire you and go get a high performing Private.’ You’ve got Smith and you’ve got to figure out how to make it work.”
That’s how it is for most managers. You don’t get a choice about who is assigned to your team. You don’t get much say in what challenges you’re assigned to tackle. You don’t have a lot of influence on the resources or time you’ll have to meet the challenges either.
The premise of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results is that if you’re a boss, your job is to create an environment where great work gets done. No excuses. The promise of the book is that it’s filled with ways to get that job done.
Situations You can Recognize and Strategies You can Use
The “box” mentioned in the title is a simple matrix that will help you identify common leadership challenges. Knowing what you’re facing will help you decide how much of your leadership capital you should invest in meeting a challenge.
That’s helpful, but the authors go further. They lay out specific strategies for dealing with each challenge. You’ll find a good example of one of them in a recent blog post on the thoughtLEADERS blog. The title is “Powerful Techniques for Oiling That Squeaky Wheel on Your Team.”
I’ve been a big fan of the blog for years because Mike does three things. He deals with real-world issues. He offers practical ways to deal with those issues. And he explains both in straightforward, understandable language.
One Reason to Buy and Read Lead Inside the Box
When I interviewed Mike about Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results, I asked him to share one reason why you should buy it. Here’s what he said.
“I think the one reason to buy it is the pressure is so high and the time is so constricted that if you want to be successful and competitive, you have to change how you are spending your time and where you are spending it in terms of leading your people. You can do that randomly and try out different approaches, or you can get the book and get a very straight forward framework with practices and practical questions that will tell you to spend more time with this person and spend it this way. And you’ll learn how to spend less time with this other person, but spend the time this way. It’s going to help you be more efficient and more effective in a really practical way.”