First, memorize the words to this song by Sting.
Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you
Sting was right, although I doubt he thought about the leadership implications to the lyrics of “Every Breath You Take”. The fact is that every step you take and every word you speak is watched closely and interpreted by your employees. They not only watch closely like scientists with a microscope, they discuss it with each other in the ranks. The ‘ranks’ are also known as the Employee Culture and they want nothing more than to know how to survive and prosper in your organization.
This is not an insidious act but rather a survival practice that has been in existence since the time when cavemen (and women) roamed the earth.
 Slap, S (2008) Bury My Heart in Conference Room B. New York: Penguin Books
You can’t change this but you can positively influence your brand and the impact you have on others by following two simple leadership rules.
Two Influence Rules:
The 20/80 Rule
This rule is about listening and asking more than you talk and tell others what and how to do things. Basically, this rule is about talking and telling 20% of your interaction time and listening and learning from others 80% of the time? The ratio of listening to telling can reverse the dependency norm established when the leader talks and tells more than they ask and learn. As a result, employees figure out how to survive in this mode and will wait for you to tell them what to do and how to do it. If this interaction mode becomes the norm, employees are likely to brand you as “It’s his/her way or the highway” manager. So, they tell two friends and they tell two more friends and before you know it no one is willing to tell you too much. It’s easier to wait for direction. This leads to a Culture of Silence.
Instead, try to shut up and listen. Try this in your next staff meeting. Track the ratio of your talk time to your ask and learn time and see if it makes a difference in what you hear and learn from others. Be sure to listen and learn without judgment. The minute you step in and hijack the conversation, which everyone can see, it’s curtains. All other minds and mouths shut down.
Try it and Track It™ is RVB Associates, Inc. method for identifying and demonstrating specific priority actions in the real world and tracking the results.
The Count to 45 Rule
This rule works in conjunction with Rule #1. When you ask for others’ views or ideas, what’s your tolerance for silence before you jump back in with your ideas? 5 seconds? 10 seconds? Try the “Count to 45 seconds” rule. Ask the question and shut up and listen for 45 seconds. You will be tempted to jump in if no one responds but don’t do it. I’m betting that you won’t get to 30 seconds before someone else presents an idea. This is a great way to break any dependency on your direction.
These two rules can work together to encourage more involvement and upward communication. You will know this is working when the participation levels increase and your employee culture is solving more business problems independently and when knowledge is moving faster than ever before. The assumption is that you actually want this transition. Some managers prefer to be the central figure in the problem solving and idea generation processes. There are also rules for that scenario and they are different from the ones proposed here.
Knowledge transfer is a critically important phenomenon that can become a competitive advantage. Recent research titled, “The Iceberg of Ignorance” shows that, 100% of problem information is known by staff members, and only 74% is known by Team Leaders, 9% is known by Team Managers and only 4% of that information makes it to executive levels. It may be okay that only 9% of problem information makes its way to managers because they don’t have to know everything. But what if even a fraction of that information represented significant risk to the organization that could damage your brand or harm your customers? Would you want to have that information?
A good way to accelerate knowledge transfer and the resulting knowledge capital strength is to start using these two rules. At your next group meeting, follow Rule 1 and 2: Try it and Track It™.
 Yoshida, S. Quality and TQC Management in Japan and Overseas”