The Law of the Umbrella

The Law of the Umbrella dictates that what is good for the organization as a whole will also work for any team within that org.

Leaders: anywhere you find yourself in the corporate pyramid, you can act as an umbrella for your team. If your company has an unhealthy culture, think of that as rain falling down on your people from above. You can take steps to protect your staff from much of that unpleasantness – not all of it, of course, but you can deflect a lot.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also completely true. Every company, no matter how healthy and wonderful as a whole, has backwaters run by jerks. The umbrella is also in effect here: the healthy culture is still the rain in this case, and the boss opens himself to keep that sustaining moisture from his team.

As a leader, all you care about is building a team that is great. Here’s how to be that umbrella for your people.

Explain your expectations of them clearly and unequivocally. Winners want to know how to win. Tell them that. They’ll go out and make the rest happen. Spend 90% of your time grooming your winners. Learn from them. Think of your time as a reward that their success has earned.

Explain to your winners how much you admire them. Don’t assume they know. Also don’t be fawning about it. Just state your appreciation, frequently and specifically, for the things they’re doing right. A talented leader understands when she has a winner, and supports that winner’s move to the next challenge. Be a champion, not an impediment.

Summing-up: Act on this guiding principle: “My job is to make your job easier.” In other words, facilitate their success. Your role, whether you realized it or not, is to take the junk away from your team so they can focus on what matters. Keep your people focused on what matters, what pays the company’s bills. Be a servant leader.

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