Do Nothing! by J. Keith Murnighan
How to Stop Overmanaging and Become a Great Leader

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Imagine you’ve just come back to work after a two-week vacation during which you actually relaxed, without calling in or checking e-mail. You discover that there are no pressing issues and that, on the contrary, your team scored a big new customer and fixed a nagging problem during your absence. No red flags or fires to put out.


Sadly, for most leaders this scenario is only a dream. They constantly check on what’s happen­ing because they expect the worst (and usually get it). But Keith Murnighan shows that not only is “do nothing” leadership possible, it is also far more effective than doing too much.


Great leaders don’t work; they facilitate and orchestrate. They think of great strategies and help others implement them. They spend their time preparing for the future. They take a comprehensive view of their terrain while also noticing key details so they can confidently choose the right forks in the road.

In other words, great leaders don’t do any­thing—except think, make key decisions, help people do their jobs better, and add a touch of organizational control to make sure the final recipes come out okay. In sharp contrast, most leaders are too busy actually working to do these things—and their teams suffer as a result.


Do Nothing!’s practical strategies and true stories will show you how to set high expec­tations for your team and watch it rise to the challenge. It will help you establish a healthier culture by trusting people more than they expect to be trusted. And it will help you overcome your natural tendencies toward micromanagement so you can let people do their jobs—even when you know you could do their jobs better.


As Murnighan writes, “My experience suggests that you will be surprised—wildly surprised. Peo­ple on your team will reveal skills you never knew they had and will accomplish things that go far beyond your estimate of their capabilities. They might not do things the way you would do them, but they will get results you never expected. Every­one has hidden talents, and most leaders never discover them. Before you reject this approach, ask yourself: what if you did nothing and it actu­ally worked?”

About J. Keith Murnighan

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J. KEITH MURNIGHAN is an award-winning professor at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and a consultant for Ernst & Young, the Young Presidents' Organization, and many others. His research has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, and Forbes
Published June 14, 2012 by Portfolio. 236 pages
Genres: Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Do Nothing!

Publishers Weekly

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Harking back to concepts similar to Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, this thoroughly researched approach from Murnighan, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, advocates effective leadership via “doing nothing”—allowing and encouraging certain potential present in...

Mar 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Do Nothing!: How to Stop Over...

Dallas News

When it comes to managing, the more you do for your staff, the less they think and do on their own.

Jun 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Do Nothing!: How to Stop Over...

Management Today

Having convincingly made the case for less is more and the value of teamwork, the author moves to what I call 'decentring' - the art of seeing through the eyes of followers and others - which he calls 'Focus on Them'.

Aug 30 2012 | Read Full Review of Do Nothing!: How to Stop Over...

If you don't respect your employees, I can guarantee they aren't going to respect you.

Feb 11 2015 | Read Full Review of Do Nothing!: How to Stop Over...

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