It never ceases to amaze me that so frequently, the best ideas are the simplest ones. They are so obvious and always within our reach that we tend to overlook them consistently. I've (sort of) stumbled over such an idea today while listening to Elad Gil's "High Growth Handbook".

This book was on my pile of shame since 2018, somehow always getting pushed downwards in the queue, but I've finally reached out for it recently. The idea I've mentioned above is described in the first chapter, during the interview with Claire Hughes Johnson. Claire uses this technique while managing (not necessarily teams, but whole units), especially in organizations on a steep growth curve, where org structures are very fluid and keep growing rapidly.

Basically, instead of letting others learn her managerial and leadership style in the heat of battle (by direct exposure and interaction), she openly publishes a short document that describes that up-front. One could call it a "Claire - user manual" or "Working with Claire - a practical guide".

What can you find in this document? Practical stuff like:

  1. both expectations (from subordinates altogether) and commitments (to them) as well
  2. important rituals - in other words: the rhythm of collaboration with Claire (e.g., one-on-ones, career development discussions, and other touch-points)
  3. communication style: what kind of messaging she prefers, how she approaches feedback (both directions), how she uses different modes of communication (sync/async, 1way/2way, etc.)
  4. collaboration style: what to be aware of, what is acceptable (and what is not), how she approaches commitments, what is her delegation approach, etc.
  5. what is she struggling with (and would appreciate some help with)

This manifest ...

  • is not supposed to be a biography ("let me tell you how my style evolved over the years")
  • shouldn't be too obvious ("I am honest and fair")
  • has to focus on what's important in work ("I like Marvel comic books and pottery")
  • cannot be too long - for practical reasons ("Chapter IX: Claire in the large group meetings with customers")

OK, cool, but what's so brilliant about that? Why dedicate a whole blog post to that doc?

I've fallen in love with this idea because it doesn't just make things more transparent (CLARITY!) - so everyone can confront the written statements with the reality - but also brings up a good reason to self-reflect, especially if revisited regularly.

Frankly, there's no reason to keep it for managerial positions only. Looking back at all the organizations I've worked for within the last 20 years, I wonder how many dramas could have been avoided if everyone started her/his employment by assembling such a "guide to her/himself" ...