Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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5/30/2014
10:25 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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Pizza & Leadership: 4 Lessons

If you want to be a good leader, treat your team members in a way that makes them want to buy you a pizza. Allow us to explain.

the reason certain work needs to get done by a certain time. For example, "We need to get this done by the end of this week, or a factory will sit idle and people will get laid off," is a much more effective message than telling employees, "We have to get this in next week, because the project is three weeks behind schedule."

2. Show gratitude.
The study showed that of 19 types of politeness measured (such as saying "please," greeting people, deference to social standing, and apologies), only one showed a statistical impact on success rates: gratitude. Too many leaders don't bother saying thank you and mistake the paycheck for thanks enough. A little gratitude goes a long way toward making employees feel valued.

3. Be positive.
Not surprisingly, posts on a site where people ask for food tend to be negative and sad. Surprisingly, the Stanford study found that the posts that conveyed optimism and a positive attitude were more successful in getting a pizza than the downers. Sometimes, less "needy" individuals (like those asking for pizza for a birthday party, for example) had better results than those expressing great need. When it's time to rally your troops around a project or work event that you know they aren't going to like, try emphasizing the good news instead of the bad.

4. Be one of the gang.
The Stanford study showed that members of the Reddit community were more likely to help those who they thought were like them in some way. It's easy for leaders, especially those high up the ladder, to assume a persona that lifts them above the group. If you do that, be prepared to have it backfire at key moments of need unless you can also cultivate some aspect of "sameness." It works even better if you are actually able to relate to your employees. Even if you can't, do your best to cultivate a personality your team can relate to.

It should be easier for a leader to inspire a team than it is for people to get perfect strangers to buy them pizzas. You have the advantage of personal contact, a built-in understanding of why a team member might need to deliver at a given moment, and significantly more access to what makes them likely to get involved. But you also have the handicap that your behavior is monitored 40 hours (or more) a week by your team. If you want to be a good leader, you might want to consider treating your team members as if you always want them to buy you a pizza. Maybe they will. If they don't, at least they'll be more likely to work hard for you.

What inspires you at work? Which leadership traits have you found to be least effective in your IT organization? Tell us all about them in the comments section below.

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 4:43:20 AM
Productivity
"According to Harvard Business Review, organizations with a higher level of employee enthusiasm report 22% higher productivity than their less-involved counterparts. Such companies also can be more innovative, more collaborative, and more successful than those that have low employee-morale scores."

David, No doubt about that.  if employees are happy, they may became more enthusiastic and hence output will be more. So it's essential for employer to make them happy.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 7:44:32 AM
Free Pizza
Now some of the "free lunch" invitations I've been getting recently are starting to make sense.  There is a local company offering to send a pizza to my office so I can eat while watching a webinar, I guess this is to make sure I'm ready to soak in all the information they are about to present.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/2/2014 | 9:25:15 AM
Re: "thank you"
If I've gone above and beyond, I really appreciate a "thanks." It can be as casual as an IM or email. It doesn't have to be any big deal. Being in publishing for so long, I've only rarely had cash bonuses -- although those are always welcome! So heartfelt thanks from a manager does go a long way.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
6/2/2014 | 9:34:12 AM
Re: Productivity
That's a stat which makes sense. If you feel good about your position, feel appreciated and liked by your manager and colleagues, then you want to go to work and make a difference. If you don't feel that way, then perhaps you are less inclined to make any extra effort. It's just human nature!
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/2/2014 | 2:29:24 PM
Re: Looking forward to lunch
They would occasionally order pizza for the whole office or barbecue as a way to say thanks.


Out of curiosity, Michelle, does that work just as well as saying thank you? My general impression (and my experience reading Dilbert) says that "trinkets" don't repalce actual gratitutde. But it seems like company pass out the t-shirts, food and "perks" like candy (they even pass out candy), but that the words thank you are much more rarely used.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/2/2014 | 2:33:38 PM
Re: Be one of the gang
@susan- I'm glad I helped the pizza industry. :)

I didn't put "Be One of the Gang" first, because I felt like a manager's ability to do that all the time depends on what level they are at. I do agree with Rob who posted earlier that the higher up you go, there needs to be a persona associated with being a leader. That said, there's still a way to relate that works at every level. I just didn't want people to think all I was really suggesting was that if you pretend you are not the boss it is enough.

But you are right, I think, that if you never forget your team is made up of people you are going to be successful with the rest.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/2/2014 | 2:44:06 PM
Re: Show evidence of need
Every team member ideally sees her or his contribution as needed.


@moarsauce123- How is that accomplished? Are we supposed to assume it? Is management supposed to help us realize it? I'm willing to say maybe we're all whiny brats and should just assume we are all needed or we'd be fired. But that seems like a tough life (though maybe i'm a whiny brat).
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/2/2014 | 2:48:06 PM
Re: Productivity
@Gigi3- I would agree with you. I think even most managers would agree with you in the abstract. It is one of those self-evident points of management that managers always get wrong in real life. I wonder where we get the disconnect? And how do we fix it?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/2/2014 | 2:51:10 PM
Re: Free Pizza
@SaneIT- Wow, that's a really smart idea. People are less grumpy when fed. Pizza is the perfect food. People listen better when they have something in their hands. This is brilliant.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/2/2014 | 4:12:40 PM
Re: Free Pizza
It really is smart. Innovative and it would make people smile, for a low cost.
<<   <   Page 4 / 15   >   >>
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