A One-Page User’s Manual

An outstanding idea for identifying, sustaining and articulating your leadership skills and style appeared in a recent Corner Office “Openers” interview in the Sunday New York Times Ivar Kroghrud, lead strategist at QuestBack, in an interview on leadership and management, shared his idea of creating a “one page user’s manual” – a tool that would help staff know what’s important to him.  The interview suggests the user’s manual facilitates both efficiency and effectiveness, especially for new employees, and can eliminate the “get to know me” aspects of orientation and lead to a fully engaged staff.  Mr. Kroghrud also indicated the concept was useful in creating new teams – significantly shortening the learning curve and getting the team “up to speed” in minimal time.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/business/questbacks-lead-strategist-on-his-user-manual.html?ref=adambryant)

As I considered the suggestion of the “one page user’s manual”, it struck me that this is a great tool to assist those interested in articulating their leadership skills!  As I work with clients seeking SES positions, the biggest challenge they face is being comfortable talking about their leadership abilities and accomplishments!

So – how would you develop a one-page user’s manual about yourself?  You could begin with the following:

  • Feedback from leadership assessments
  • Performance reviews and/or fitness reports
  • Staff feedback
  • Answer the question – what’s made you successful?
  • What’s the one big mistake staff can make with you?
  • What gets your attention – good and bad?
  • Take an inventory of your personal traits – and how they have contributed to your success!
  • Try to articulate your biggest failure

To get started – you need to do some brainstorming about yourself!  Sit down in a quiet spot and ask yourself the following question:  To be successful, what are the 3-5 most important things people need to know about me as a leader?  As you consider this question, think about leaders and mentors who have positively influenced you as a leader – what are the traits, competencies or skills you admire?

The format of the manual isn’t that important, but I would recommend that you try to be succinct and limit it to one page if possible – this isn’t War and Peace.  A lengthy document may also be considered as intimidating or create other problems – so short and sweet is probably better!

To help you – I’ve written a sample – see below!

Susan Custard’s One Page Users Manual

Thank you for taking the time to read this manual!  I’m sharing the information I think you need to help you succeed in Custard Consulting, LLC – and with me!

A bit about myself – I’m a self-managed person, recognized for my strategic thinking and in-depth expertise on a variety of topics in Federal human capital and human resources management.  With more than 31 years of Federal service, I have had the wonderful opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream of owning and managing a small business!  I’m very proud of my consulting practice!  If you are reading this manual – you should have the same feelings about your own small business – since I only use subcontractors to provide service, and I’m very selective about the businesses I partner with – you should have the same feelings of pride!

My company’s motto – excellence, integrity, customer service and respect are the key elements of what you need to know about me.  I have a long standing reputation of excellence of product, strategic thinking and delivery – each are key to success in both the private and public sectors, and I have found excellence to be the key to acquiring and sustaining customers.  Integrity goes hand-in-hand with excellence – integrity for me means clearly articulating what my company can and can’t do, while sharing and partnering with others who can provide higher and better levels of service!  And – of key importance is the service ethic – which means that we do what is right for the client – even if it means giving an answer not particularly desired but sorely needed.  And finally, respect – which is sorely missing throughout the public sector these days.  I believe it’s critical to respect customers, each other, and the diversity of thought and experience we all bring to the table!  Respect and teamwork can only make us stronger!

As I read the above, it seems fairly “Pollyannaish” and right out of a manager’s rah-rah speech to the staff!  However, I have found these key principles to be valuable throughout my professional career and private life!  And finally – if you really want to know what will make me “see red” – blindside me on something – it will be an unforgettable experience!

Good luck as you capture your own leadership philosophy in a One Page User’s Manual!  Don’t forget to keep your Manual updates as your wisdom increases, and you become the leader and mentor for the next generation of leaders!

Questions and comments can be submitted to Susan Custard at susanc@custardconsulting.com.