My favorite feature in Fortune magazine is a column entitled “How We Got Started.”  Each month a different business leader reflects on their company’s beginnings and then offers a few nuggets of advice to readers.


In May, the column featured John and Bert Jacobs, founders of Life Is Good, the company who produces (mostly) t-shirts that feature rudimentary drawings of people having fun.

Of the advice they shared, the one that stuck with me is this:
“Be transparent.  You don’t have to be right or have all the answers.  You’ve got to be able to tell people what’s happening — good, bad, or ugly.  Then others can help solve the problem.”

How often have you found yourself in a situation where you only heard part of the story from the leader?  Or where those in charge acted as if they had things under control, when really they needed all the help they could get?  

It’s likely that if you are a good leader, you have hired awesome people.  Take advantage of their brain power and focus it on helping you to find the best solution.  Tell them where you stand with the budget, and let them develop ideas on cost savings.  Acknowledge where you are having production issues, and see if they can’t re-engineer the process for you.  Show current figures on where you stand with customer satisfaction, and encourage them to offer suggestions for reform.

Trying to solve your organization’s problems by yourself is a sure path that leads to Life Is Bad.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Source:  How We Got Started/Our Advice, John and Bert Jacobs, Fortune, May 19, 2014, p. 42.



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