As top-ten lists go, Steve Tobak’s stands out, for their clarity and concision. They are utterly and impressively high concept. Link here.
Tobak calls them "rules of engagement" and he is right to do so. They will help you to engage with your job, to engage with your colleagues and bosses and staff. They might even help you to engage in the more personal sense of the term.
These rules all have the same structure: they are guiding us toward replace our bad habits with good ones.
It takes time to develop bad habits; it will take time and work to replace them with good ones.
Tobak formulated these precepts for business leaders, present and future. They are so good that they will also work in other human relationships.
Here’s Tobak’s list:
1. Instead of covering your ass, put your ass on line.
2. Don’t rip off ideas, riff on them.
3. Tell it straight, don’t sugarcoat or breathe your own fumes.
4. Instead of protecting your turf, open up the playing field.
5. Don’t bitch about the boss; complement his weaknesses.
6. Attack the problem, not the person.
7. Don’t place blame; take responsibility
8. Instead of making waves, make decisions.
9. To break analysis paralysis, take a chill pill
10. Replace strategy du jour with strategic planning.
In the largest sense Tobak is showing us how to build our character. Character building involves ridding yourself of bad habits by practicing good ones.
Bad character is irresponsible, defensive, self-aggrandizing, dishonest, and self-absorbed. It is all heat and little light. Bad character refuses to learn from the past and fails to plan for the future. It is small picture thinking.
A person with bad character is focused on his ego; and there is nothing smaller than ego.
A person of good character makes decisions and takes responsibility for his decisions. He does not shift blame and does not take credit for ideas that are not his.
When he states an idea, he is clear and to the point. He does not indulge in ambiguity or invite exotic interpretations.
Having a large perspective, he thinks about what is good for the company because he identifies his good with the company good.
He never thinks to take advantage of the company for his own benefit.
What would happen if you applied these same rules to your personal life?
Would your relationships improve if you were more responsible, less defensive, less in it for yourself and more in it for the good of the couple? Would life be better if you were less intent on the present, but were planning for both or your futures? Would your relationships be better if you were clearer about what you are going to do, less prone to obfuscation, and less apt to blame everyone else for your own failures? And how much better would your relationships be if you attacked problems, not people. And if you attacked them together, as a couple?