Quite contrarian advice
can help your business grow
FORGET EVERYTHING you think you majority of your tim e with the people
know about effective leadership and manage- who behave that way.”
ment—the old strategies no longer apply. Don’t be tough. Rinke spent his early
By Peter J. Malcolm
At least, that’s the assertion of management career as an autocratic manager who
consultant and Costco member Wolf Rinke. thought his job was to catch people messing
His latest book, Don’t Oil the Squeaky Wheel … up. Looking back, he now advocates what he
and 19 Other Contrarian Ways to Improve Your calls the “don’t be a cop, be a coach” method.
Leadership Effectiveness (McGraw-Hill, 2004), “If you’re tough and you push people and
offers unorthodox and counterintuitive meth- shove decisions down their throats, you’re not
ods for maximizing employee performance, going to get people to think for themselves,”
increasing customer satisfaction and ensuring he says. “And by the way, do you know what
business prosperity. ‘boss’ spells backwards? Double S.O.B.”
The book is a product of Rinke’s years of Don’t satisfy. Only if a business consis-experience as a manager, consultant and tently exceeds its customers’ expectations will
coach—years he spent honing his leadership it stay on the customers’ “radar screen.” along and do it faster and cheaper.”
skills and observing the mistakes of others. Granted, Rinke says, a company can stay on Don’t have goals and objectives.
“I find time and time again that people the radar if it consistently fails to meet expec- Rather, have an H.O.G., or humongous over-
don’t do what they know, they do what their tations, but he doesn’t recommend it. arching goal, something to give the business a
habit pattern dictates,” Rinke tells The Don’t make decisions. Get others to do backbone and provide employees with laser-
Connection. “I began to see themes of what it for you. Rinke claims dictator-like bosses cul- straight direction.
people consistently said was the right way to tivate dependent employees who do whatever “A lot of managers and leaders over-
lead and manage, and through observation I they’re told, blissfully running on autopilot as whelm their people,” he says. “You know, ‘This
found that that’s not what they’re doing.” they revel in the fact that they have no real is important, that is important,’ and people
Rinke, who works as a management con- responsibility. The key to changing this, Rinke go, ‘So what is important around here?’ An
sultant, executive coach and keynote speaker says, is to get employees to take ownership. H.O.G. is one really critical goal that you
in Hanover, Maryland, took time to explain “Ask a lot of questions,” Rinke says. “This implement and drive home so that every
the logic behind some of his against-the- gets them thinking, most importantly, that it’s team member internalizes it.”
grain business tenets. their idea. The best results are achieved when Don’t have people work for you. This
Don’t oil the squeaky wheel. The pre- you get other people to make your idea theirs.” is Rinke’s favourite of the 20 tenets, which he
dominant method for dealing with problem The two best questions? “What are you calls the secret to leadership effectiveness.
employees is to spend large amounts of time going to do about that?” and “What do you While this doesn’t mean “don’t have employ-
with them to correct whatever it is that’s making think?” Rinke says mastering the art of these ees,” it does urge employers to treat their
the squeaking noise. The way Rinke sees it, most powerful inquiries is key to becoming an workers as if they’re volunteers.
managers are oiling the wrong wheel. effective leader. “Think about it: What do you say to vol-
“If you spend more than 5 per Don’t be proud. Be unteers?” he asks. “You say, ‘Please, could you
cent of your time with troublemak- humble. Rinke says pride is do me a favour?’ If you treat people like volun-ers, you’re messing up,” he says. “If the hallmark of ineffective teers, you achieve tremendous improvements
you want your team members to be managers. Give credit away; in employee satisfaction, and once you get
positive, trusting, turned on and don’t keep it for yourself. there, people will walk on hot coals for you.”
tuned in, then you must spend the “The whole chest- Who would have thought treating workers
thumping, ‘we are the best’ with respect would be such a contrarian idea? C
idea gets you in trouble,”
Connecting he says. “The minute you Peter J. Malcolm is a graduate of Western
For more information on Rinke and Wolf
Rinke start thinking you’re the Washington University and was a recent
his book, visit www.wolfrinke.com. best, someone will come intern at The Costco Connection.