William Swanson, CEO of Raytheon, has written a great little book of management rules. You can get it from Raytheon for free and it’s worth filling out the web form to request it.
The pocket-sized, spiral bound book has plenty of gems not just for improving your leadership, but for improving professional relationships.
A couple of my favorites:
Rule 5: Presentation rule: when something appears on a slide presentation, assume the world knows about it and deal with it accordingly. I’d say this extends to any form of communication, especially e-mail. Don’t expect your e-mails to remain private. Save your ranting and disparaging, negative comments for private, face to face communications. Sending out unprofessional mails, or mails containing sensitive content, is flat out foolish and you’re risking showing your ass big time. Trust me, I learned this lesson the hard way years ago. (Luckily the stupid comments I sent out were about a co-worker I actually had a good relationship with. A face-to-face apology wasn’t easy, but smoothed things over.)
Rule 32: A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter – or to others – is not a nice person. Be very, very wary of folks who speak sugar to you but snub others they perceive as lower than them. These folks are usually carrying a large knife to stick in your back.
And my personal favorite, one I’ve believed strongly in for years:
Rule 1: Learn to say, “I don’t know.” I have never felt uneasy saying “I don’t know,” because that’s immediately followed by “but I’ll find the answer.” I detest people who blab on in meetings trying to contribute to make themselves look better when they’re really making themselves out like fools. I’ve had the misfortune to work for a couple managers (not leaders) like this. I was happy to leave those jobs. “I don’t know” is a powerful phrase because it shows confidence in yourself. That’s right, confidence. I’m not bothered by admitting I don’t know something. So there.
Grab this book and give it a read. It’s powerful stuff.
(I stumbled across a reference to this book on a blog some months back. I don’t remember whose blog it was, so I can’t give credit. Sorry.)