They say TV rots your brain. But doesn’t that depend on what you watch?
If you’re a fan of “NCIS,” you may have actually learned something from the lead character Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Gibbs is a former U.S. Marine sniper turned special agent who works and lives by his own special set of no-nonsense rules.
These rules define who he is and how he manages his team.
Of course, not all of Gibbs’ rules can be applied to business, but here are 13 worth tweaking for your environment.
NOTE: Since Gibbs’ rules have never been written down (it is a TV show after all), there is often more than one rule for any given number. Rule #1 and Rule #3 are perfect examples.
Rule #1: Never let suspects stay together
Now you may say, “I’m not a detective! What does this have to do with me?” But think of it this way: If you’re trying to get to the bottom of a situation in your department, wouldn’t you talk to people separately to get their personal take on it?
Initially, you wouldn’t talk to people together, because they’re less likely to be 100% honest. Maybe they’re afraid of the other person, or maybe they just don’t want anyone else to know they screwed up.
Talking to people one-on-one can help get to the bottom of things faster.
(Another) Rule #1: Never screw over your partner
I think this one is self-explanatory, whether you’re a special agent or a resourceful manager. Screwing people over, who trust you and work with you, will result in them not trusting you. So don’t do it.
Rule #3: Don’t believe what you’re told. Double-check
Don’t believe what you hear unless it’s from an official source. Find out for yourself what the truth is. And if something doesn’t look or feel right to you, whether it is numbers or something said in a meeting, double-check it yourself.
(Another) Rule #3: Never be unreachable
This is a rule all managers should take to heart. That doesn’t mean you can’t shut your door to work on an important project or take a vacation, but rather always be there for your employees.
Let them know you are there to help and support them.
Rule #4: The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself
OK, if you have to, you can tell one other person, according to Gibbs, but that’s it. Remember loose lips sink ships, and few people are good at keeping secrets.
So, if there’s something that needs to be kept under wraps, zip it.
Rule #5: You don’t waste good
You can interpret this however you want. My take on this is: If you have a great employee who would fit better somewhere else or in a higher position, don’t let how long he or she has been at the company affect your decision to move or promote the person. Just do it.
Rule #8: Never take anything for granted
This phrase can have many different meanings. In the business world, you could interpret it as, if an opportunity presents itself, jump on it. It may not be there tomorrow. Or another take, don’t assume all your employees are happy and fulfilled.
Talk to them and find out for sure, or they could leave thinking you don’t care.
Rule #15: Always work as a team
The “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” way of thinking has no place in a resourceful manager’s handbook. Working as a team increases collaboration, allows for brainstorming and produces more ideas.
Rule #28: When you need help, ask
Plain and simple, struggling to do something yourself wastes time and energy.
Rule #36: If you feel like you are being played, you probably are
Not everyone you work with is going to be a good person. There will always be those few who are out to climb the ladder no matter who they step on or stab in the back. If you feel like someone in the office is trying to manipulate you, he probably is.
Call a spade a spade, and don’t play the game!
Rule #45: Clean up the mess that you make
Look, no one is perfect. Even the best leaders and managers make mistakes. What makes you a quality leader/manager is if you own up to your mistakes and fix them.
Rule #51: Sometimes you’re wrong
Yep, believe it or not, sometimes managers make the wrong decisions. It sucks, but we all survive. Accept it and move on.
Employees will respect you for owning up to it.
Rule #62: Always give people space when they get off an elevator
It always amazes me, as soon as elevator doors open people rush to get on without letting people off. Hello … you need to let people out to make room to enter the elevator!
That’s the literal interpretation.
But if you want to look deeper into Rule #62, maybe Gibbs is saying when people are just starting a job or taking on a new project, you should give them space to explore it on their own.
If they make a mistake, hopefully they’ll learn from it. But if you don’t give them space to explore and learn, they’ll stay in the same little box they’ve been in and stagnate.
Do you have any life/business rules you live by? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comment box below.
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