Manage your molecule
Q: President Obama, who is said to be wary of "outsiders," is facing his first senior-staff shuffle, in which he'll lose two of his closest aides. Do you see such times of change -- in Obama's example and in your own experience -- as a positive or a negative? Do you see your success as coming mostly from following your instincts and sticking to a tight-knit group of advisers, or from collaborating with a wide array of people?
In my experience, one has to build his/her own molecule; namely, a group of individuals in both personal and work life with whom you get done what needs to get done. You manage your molecule.
And over time, as you become more mature and successful in interacting, influencing, and leading, the processes and techniques you use to be effective become your individual "art and science" of success. It's a part of you and you carry it with you and use it as the group morphs -- people leave, new people enter -- and you use your molecule protocol to keep the group active, smart, loyal, trusting, and results-oriented.
And what are some of the characteristics of molecule protocol?
1. Be transparent. No holding things back. No half-truths. Model this behavior and members of your molecule will do the same. They will test it. You need to be ready for that, call them on it, and prove to them that withholding information from you and one another is unproductive.
2. Set clear expectations. Let then know what is acceptable and what's not. They may disagree, but they can never say they didn't know.
3. Talk things through, work beyond the problem, share ideas, make agreements, and then choose the most elegant approach.
This is what I have done and I have had about six different career molecules over the years. Given the Washington Post article, it seems evident that this is the approach that Obama uses.
Notice that those close to him can easily share how Obama likes to operate, what he wants at the beginning of the day, how he likes to close each day, and what they can expect him to read overnight. That's not going to change as some of the people switch chairs.