Book Study: Shifting the Monkey

Author: Todd Whitaker

When a group of coworkers is assigned to complete a task...

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Effective leaders protect their good people from:

Shifting the Monkey

Monkeys are responsibilities, obligations, and problems everyone deals with. Some monkeys shouldn't be on your shoulder; they shouldn't be your problem. Liars, criers, and slackers shift their monkeys to people who work hard and care about the organization. Effective leaders identify inappropriate monkeys and shift them back where they belong.

Questions to Ask

  1. Where is the monkey?
  2. Where should the monkey be?
  3. How do I shift the monkey to its proper place?

Concepts to Follow

  1. Treat everyone well.
  2. Make decisions based on your best people.
  3. Protect your good people first.

Out-of-Place Monkeys

Where is the Monkey? Where Should it Be?

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Treat Everyone Well

Make Decisions Based on Your Best People

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Protect Your Good People First

What Monkeys Do You Shift?

Blanket Monkey

Rather than sending a message to an anonymous receiver via the blanket memo, deal directly with the problem person. Put the monkey on his/her back and his/her back only.

Rule Monkey

Rather than issuing rules to the entire group designed to change the behavior of a few, deal with those few individually and directly.

Avoidance Monkey

Deal with problems now. Nip them in the bud while they are still manageable and have not rotted an entire organization.

Yelling Monkey

Keep our emotions in check and your decibel level reasonable. Deal with problems logically, not emotionally.

Blame Monkey

Remember that leaders get to take credit for things that go right, but they also must accept responsibility for problems and failures. Some monkeys do belong to you -- don't shift them to others.

Lying Monkey

As a leader, always speak truthfully. You may not always be able to give everyone every piece of information, and you may not want to, but don't lie to your people.

Arguing Monkey

Don't engage with people who start arguments. Control your own emotions, and with those who argue with you. Either ignore them or become a broken record, telling them what they need to do and nothing more.

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