Do Nothing!

Do Nothing!,1 a book that promotes a synonymous leadership approach, was written by J. Keith Murnighan, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The book focuses on typical leaders—those who are hardworking, conscientious and have the natural reaction to want to step up to do more. The author’s advice to his audience: Stop working and start leading!

The book opens with a dream that Murnighan emboldens the reader to make a reality: You have just returned to the office after a three-week vacation during which you did not take your cell phone and did not check emails. Miraculously, the office not only survived without you, but also did not miss a beat in your absence.

The role of a leader is to facilitate, orchestrate and coordinate. Actuaries are often known as detail-oriented and typically are reluctant to relinquish control. The combination of these signature characteristics puts the actuarial profession at a disadvantage at succeeding in leadership roles. Actuaries must overcome these emblematic characteristics to learn to trust and delegate in order to succeed as leaders.

Murnighan encourages individuals to trust themselves and their teams. Many professionals in the business world assess financial risks each day, weighing the positives and the negatives. But, “… it’s far less natural for them to think that their interactions with people have similar upsides and downsides.” Day-to-day encounters affect the perception of trust—either positively or negatively. Achieving greatness as a leader ultimately requires a genuineness that develops out of trust.

Murnighan suggests: “So go on vacation. Leave your work phone at home. (Your team) might surprise you, and they might even surprise themselves.”

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