As fate would have it, I was sitting in my boss’s office one morning, and my eyes happened to wander towards a poster hanging on the wall. The title of it caught my attention: “A Short Course in Human Relations”.
Here’s what was on the poster:
“I admit I made a mistake.”
The 5 most important words:
“You did a great job!”
The 4 most important words:
“What do you think?”
The 3 most important words:
“If you please …”
The 2 most important words:
The 1 most important word:
The 1 least important word:
I stared at it for several minutes, my concentration only broken by the sound of my boss’s voice. “That’s not the whole course, you know”
“I’m sorry, what do you mean?”, I said.
“There are the 7 most important words too – I don’t know, but I’ll find out. NOW you have the complete short course in human relations!”
I quickly wrote the “complete” short course down on my notepad. When I got back to my office, I read them once again.
The words sang to me. I absorbed the essence of the “course” – the keys to being a selfless, human, caring, trustworthy, humble, and effective leader.
My boss was also right about adding the “7 most important words” – knowing what you don’t know (and admitting it) is an essential part of the character of a great leader.
I’ve never forgotten this lesson – because of it’s utter simplicity, and directness.
In just 29 words.
But one of the best leadership lessons I ever got.
And I bet, if you print out this slide and study it for just a few minutes, it will have the same effect on you.