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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 19Kick Butt the Right Way

Kicking butt is a widespread practice that has stood the test of time. It is a valuable tool to have in your repertoire, and like any tool, you have to know how and when to use it. So kicking butt is a good idea—sometimes. It is easy to overdo this. A little goes a long way.

If kicking butt is not a natural part of your leadership style, that's okay. I advise you against trying to learn this technique or improve your use of it because there is some aptitude involved. Focus on using other techniques (those that come more naturally to you) to accomplish the same outcomes.

For you natural butt-kickers, assume your intent is to improve performance. With that worthwhile goal in mind, there are two situations in which this tool can be very effective: (1) to punish poor performance after the fact, and (2) to motivate people to create a sense of urgency.

If a person or team has performed poorly (way short of their capability), they are disappointed, and they know you are disappointed. Kicking butt brings this to closure and therefore allows you to move on. It feels appropriate to everyone. Once you have done this though, leave it behind. Do not keep punishing them.

If you are reacting to poor performance, don't kick butt when you are angry. Get beyond the anger so you can be intentional about how and when you do it.

If a person or team is not demonstrating enough urgency, kicking butt is also appropriate. This is the most easily identifiable situation ...

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