Adam Bryant’s New York Times interview with Tachi Yamada, M.D., president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, reveals essential abilities for anyone interested in making a difference to the organization. Yamada points to the importance of communicating to those with whom you are conversing that you care about them by not allowing other distractions interrupt the time you are investing with them—no cell phones, no email, no texting etc. What Yamada is speaking to, are the very human needs to be acknowledged and respected as a human being. Meeting these needs makes for an environment of trust; and with trust collaboration is likely and with collaboration progress becomes possible.
Yamada tells of the importance of delegating while maintaining a ‘microinterest’, but without micromanaging those to whom you delegate. Yamada said, ”learning how to delegate, learning how to let go and still make sure that everything happened, was a very important lesson.” Could Yamada mean that leaders must balance control and delegation? Yamada states that he reads about 1,000 pages of documents daily with the intent of developing an understanding of those aspects in each of the organization’s projects upon which success hinges.
Why does he do this? As he claims that when a problem occurs he will be on top of it. It appears that while Yamada does not want to micromanage those managing the projects, at the same time he is preparing to do so just in case. What message is sent when a manager/leader shadows your activity in the organization? What other ways could Yamada maintain ‘microinterest’? Might the weekly process (see Hidden Lessons in Leadership) followed by Mark Pincus, founder and CEO of Zynga better serve as a way to keep in touch with both people and projects? What other ways could Yamada both maintain understanding of the organization’s work and show confidence in others?