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Rules for appearing like an effective Big Bad Big Boss


First, make sure that the people below you "encourage" their coworkers and minions to attend your listening session, and have them also "encourage" their coworkers and minions to further "encourage" others to attend, etc. Assistant-leader-types should physically wander around 10 minutes before the starting time to "remind" people of the event.

Arrive 10 minutes late, not so late that people get pissed, but late enough so that people realize you are a busy person who has tried his best to arrive close to the starting time.

Thank everybody for "allowing" you to appear before them.

Announce that, "I'm here to listen to you," and mention that, "I brought no prepared remarks today." In fact, arrive with absolutely nothing in your hands! Your assistant placed your notes on the podium before anybody showed up.

Speak softly, so everybody has to be absolutely still and quiet to hear what you are saying. If somebody arrives late, greet her by name with a pleasant smile. If somebody makes a loud noise, ask him by name if everything is all right.

Spend 30 minutes speaking informally while consulting the notes your assistant placed on the podium. Establish two priorities for your tenure as the Big Bad Big Boss and show how everything that happens connects back to those two priorities.

After delivering your non-prepared remarks, open the floor for questions. Ask people how "we" are doing, point out that the organization is not "me", but "us".

When somebody asks a question, encourage her to speak loudly by casually placing your hand behind your ear. Whatever your answer might be, connect it back to your two priorities.

Inject gentle irony into your responses -- it helps people to laugh despite the dry subject matter at hand.

Praise your assistants, and their assistants, and the entire organization, while stressing your high expectations for even more high quality work. Point out that your two priorities are opportunities for each person to become more productive and better at his job.

Continue taking questions. Continue taking questions. If, eventually, nobody else speaks up, insist that there must be more questions in the audience, and wait. Eventually the people who already asked questions will ask even more questions, and these people will become unpopular -- because everybody else is hungry, or has to go to the bathroom, or wants her second cup of coffee. Meanwhile, you appear more than willing to listen to everybody in the group, even the unpopular people ;-)

Finally, thank the group again for allowing you to visit. Accept their applause graciously.


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