User Friendly Leadership

A website is considered user-friendly if it is simple and painless to explore.  Ergonomics engineers study human-machine interactions to ensure that cars and other manufactured products provide an enjoyable experience in addition to their core function.  Consumer Reports ranks dishwashers and flat screen TV’s alike based on their level of user-friendliness.

Twenty years ago, this concept was an afterthought.  Computer geeks used DOS, which required memorizing a series of bizarre tech commands.  Cars makers focused on function and style, giving far less thought to consumer experience.  And there was no such thing as a user-friendly VCR – only that infamous blinking 12:00 clock that we never knew how to set.

The same was true with leadership.  Tough bosses barked orders, issued harsh criticism, and seldom gave thought to their impact on others.

Well the world has radically changed and we can no longer simply rely on the models of the past and expect to win.  Websites that lack impeccably designed usability will fail to attract users, while prickly leaders who beat down their employees will simply fail altogether.

User-friendliness is now a requirement for high-performing leaders.  Competency in this category is the ante to play, and excellence can become a significant competitive advantage.

Instincts may suggest that being warm-and-fuzzy will hurt the bottom line.  In fact, supporting team members with compassion and understanding can drive profits faster than starving consumers can line up for free samples at Costco.  In the brain age, you’ll get the most from people if you energize them with consideration instead of crushing their souls with stinging condemnation.

What hoops do people have to leap through to interact with you?   Each layer of difficulty you craft has an inverse effect on the productivity and creativity of those around you.  The best leaders today are accessible, open-minded and supportive.  That’s the formula for stimulating passion and seizing potential.

When you choose encouragement over abrasiveness, opportunity opens up like a new checkout lane at a crowded grocery story.  You attract talented people, new customers, and media exposure.  Great leaders who govern by inspiration instead of intimidation are the ones who end up with the feast instead of the scraps.

The same holds true in a community’s fight back from the brink.  When city services are delivered with steely bureaucracy, citizens are demoralized.  When elected officials portray the user-friendliness of a furious rattlesnake, the community devolves.  On the other hand, when new leaders in both the public and private sectors rise above the noise, our community unites and progress accelerates.

Never confuse kindness for weakness.  The opposite is true for leaders seeking to extract the most value from their teams.  Give yourself a thorough examination and quickly rectify the jagged edges to improve performance.  You will enjoy the direct correlation between improving your user-friendliness and driving the results you seek.

User-friendly leadership.  No operating manual required.