Sent: July 4, 12:30 p.m.
To: Executive Team
Subject: New Book – How to Be Great Again
Just finished this great new book about how to be great again, and we should use it as our new mantra. It beats Good to Great hands down. Set up a mandatory company meeting for tomorrow so I can share my insights with everyone.
So that we’re all on the same page, please read the book before the meeting.
This will be great!
The key to great leadership is to make sure you are up on all the latest literature. You don’t actually need to read the books, but you have to act like you did. You want to have your desk full of unread books, and if anyone asks, you loved this one or that one, but say things like “It was insightful,” “It changed my world view,” or some other mindless statement that will convey your brilliance. Remember, you can bluff your way to greatness—just look at all the leaders before you!
Then the key is to shame your direct reports into reading books and then take whatever ideas they come up with and pretend they were yours. Say things like “Why don’t you give it a read and tell me what you think; then we’ll see if we agree.” Then, no matter what they say, always disagree with something because you need to be right. Remember, that’s key to great leadership.
Of course, you’ll have to agree with something, so let them sweat it out for a while, and when something strikes your fancy, pounce! Say, “That’s exactly what I thought! How do you think we should best implement that?” And no matter what they say, respond with “Just what I was thinking. Let me give it some more thought and get back to you.”
Then—here comes the really brilliant part—wait a day or two and then send out a note to the team, taking that idea. Now you own it and can assign the hapless manager to implement your plan. Brilliant! No one will be the wiser.
Remember not to use the same person twice because there is a slim possibility that someone may catch on, so spread it around a little.
Another great way to never have to read an actual book is to have your executive team read them first, write CliffsNotes versions of the books, and then collectively decide the best way forward. This will create a feeding frenzy for your attention, so, again, you get to be brilliant and never have to crack a book!
If the idea bombs, you now have a scapegoat to blame, keeping your hands clean of all culpability for a bad idea. And if it’s a good one and your team actually makes something work, you swoop into the meeting and praise everyone for implementing your idea so well and to your specifications. It’s a win-win for you!
If you don’t have a big team of minions to assign the actual reading to, just go on Amazon and read a review or two, then copy and paste them together as your idea and assign it to one of your people. Again, no one will ever check to see if you plagiarized anything from Amazon, I mean really, who reads those?! Always go for the books that have lots of reviews so you can go with the crowd.
LET’S GET REAL
Not every business book is worth reading, and just because you read it doesn’t mean it’s a great one. What are the problems your organization is facing? Find relevant books so you can connect the dots for your people. Books are one way to teach and train your teams, but today there are so many other ways you can utilize them as well. TED Talks, podcasts, blogs, speakers, and generally anything that addresses the challenges or opportunities you are facing in the organization—these can bring the conversation to life and make it feel more real for your team.
Find the useful nuggets in each book and paraphrase. Let those who want to read the whole book read it if, and only if, there is value for the entire team and the company.