Drilling down for a solution to a problem is obviously a necessary process, because in order to defend our choices, decisions, and recommendations in meetings with outsiders, we need to be absolutely certain that we have gotten to—pardon the pun—the root of the problem and have properly dealt with it before presenting a decision.
I believe that what we mean when we say we trust someone is that we have satisfied ourselves that this person will have done his or her drilling homework to the point where you know that it does not require second-guessing on your part.
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It has been rare for anyone to be fired at our company, but I had to let go an employee with long service, once, because the man, who was fairly high up in the management of the company, kept insisting that “subordinates” come to his office for meetings. He seemed to feel that it was beneath his dignity to go to any of their offices when they needed to discuss anything.
This sort of hierarchical behavior is, I believe, not good for companies. Other people in our company had grown weary of being treated by him not as colleagues but as people he ordered around.
I think of my own style of leadership as informal. In practice, this means that if I have something to discuss with you, I’d just as soon leave my office and go to yours and hope to chew it over with you there.
My informal style traces back to my childhood at the Walden School, where we were taught to address teachers by their first names— a great way to break down artificial barriers between teacher and students. I’ve always encouraged everyone in the company to call me