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382: Responsibility-Shifting Questions, Being a Better Manager, and Why You Might Rent a Salad Bowl


Father's Day is coming up on June 19, and I suggest Better Than Before, my book about the 21 strategies we can use to make or break our habits. A good gift for a father in your life!

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Try This at Home: Stop asking responsibility-shifting questions. Elizabeth and I sometimes ask questions as a way to nudge someone else to do the mental work needed to make a judgment call, make a tricky decision so we don't have to, or prompt them to do some task.

  • Should we bring an umbrella?
  • Is there any salt?
  • What time should I leave for the airport?
  • Do you think it's okay for our dog Nacho to stop wearing his cone after surgery?

We mention Questioners—and Upholders, Obligers, and Rebels. To take the "Four Tendencies" quiz, it's here.

Happiness Hack: Use a thrift store as a rental service. If you need to use some item just once — like an extra-large salad bowl — buy it from the thrift store, then donate it back when you're done. That way, you get the item you need, and then clear clutter, and, in many cases, give money to charity.

Interview: Russ Laraway.

Russ Laraway has had a diverse 28-year operational management career. He started out as a Company Commander in the Marine Corps. He has worked at companies like Google, Twitter, Candor, Inc., and Qualtrics. Over the years, he has managed huge teams and worked with big businesses facing a vast array of leadership challenges.

In his new book When They Win, You Win: Being a Great Manager is Simpler Than You Think (Amazon, Bookshop), Russ Laraway explains how to cultivate a happy, productive, and engaged team—and why it matters.

We talked about issues such as...

  • why managers have such a huge influence on engagement at work
  • Russ's model for the three key elements of leadership: Direction, Coaching, Career
  • the idea of a three-stage “Career Conversation”: talk about a person's life story, get clear on their long-term dream, and identify tangible steps to take right now toward that dream

Russ's Tendency: Questioner

Russ's Try This at Home: Coach your boss — account for your risk (don't try this if your boss isn't open to this); gather your boss's unique context; ask permission; then move ahead — you'll help your boss to do better.

Demerits & Gold Stars:

  • Elizabeth's Demerit: Adam and Elizabeth have been slacking off on their dog training with their new dogs, Daisy and Nacho. (If you have any Proverbs of the Professions for your profession, send them my way! As I mentioned in episode 324, I'm collecting them.)
  • Gretchen's Gold Star: I give a gold star to the guards at the Metropolitan Museum, for their unfailing patience and helpfulness.


What we’re reading:

  • Elizabeth: Lost and Found in Paris by Lian Dolan (Amazon, Bookshop)
  • Gretchen: The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox (Amazon, Bookshop) and listening to Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries 3 by Martha Wells (Amazon, Bookshop)

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