A CEO Talks Leadership

June 26, 2013 by Bill Bradley


Title: How to Become the Chief Ironing Officer

Competency: leadership

Who benefits: current and future leaders

Consultant Usage: excellent for use in leadership training classes; useful in some coaching situations

What’s it about? The New York Times recently interviewed Ivar Kroghrud, former CEO of QuestBack (specializes in feedback management).  I found some of his views on leadership interesting and provocative (in a good way) and worthy of a summary here.

His theme was one of maximizing people’s productivity when you are their chief resource.  So how does he do it?  Just to make this an easy read, let’s do it by the numbers:

1. You must have a plan and you help people stay focused on the plan.

2. If you want extraordinary results, play to people’s strengths.  Don’t get hung up on what’s not working.

3. “I am the Chief Ironing Officer”.  I help people stay on the plan and focus on their strengths.  I help them “iron” out any problems they are having.

4. “When I am in my role as CIO I spend a lot of time walking around talking to people and asking questions like ‘What’s preventing you from doing an even better job?  What are you spending time on that you don’t feel you should be spending time on?’”

5. “I developed a one-page ‘user manual’ so people can understand how to work with me” (The following three paragraphs are from his 1-page user manual.)

6. “I am patient, even-tempered and easy-going.  I appreciate straight, direct communication.  Say what you are thinking, and say without wrapping your message.”

7. “I am goal-oriented but have a high tolerance for diversity and openness to different viewpoints.  So, again, say what you are thinking and don’t be afraid to challeng the status quo.”

8. “The points (on this page) are not an exhaustive list, but should save you some time figuring out how I work and behave.  Please make me aware of additional points you think I should put on a revised version of this this ‘user manual’.”

9.  Give people your user manual on the first day of their hire.

10.  You can’t lead others if you don’t understand and lead yourself.

11.  “If people can do what they are best at most of the time, that’s a powerful way of working.”

12.  “I draw our organizational map upside down, because it’s not the leader and manager who do the work.  The manager is there to give direction and make it possible for the others to do their job.  That’s clearly illustrated if you turn it on its head.  Imagine showing a front-line employee the chart, and saying, ‘Let’s find your box somewhere very, very far down here.’  Just the psychology of that is depressing, because those are the people who deal with customers in a lot of cases.  And that is a very important role.”

Don’t you just love it when principles are clearly laid out?  Seems to me that this is pretty darn good and implementable list.  How does your boss stack up?  How do you stack up?

Catch you later.

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Leadership Development

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  1. Love his points and even more, love how you laid these out. Easy to read and understand…feel like I got a lot and don’t have to buy the book. Thanks. Have a good July 4th holiday. See you soon.

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