Shonda Rhimes Rules of Leadership & Being a Boss

photocred: BookTrib

For those of you that’s been sleeping under a rock and don’t know who Shonda Rhimes is, she is an author, television producer, screenwriter, and CEO of a television production company called ShondaLand. She is best known for being the official Thursday night takeover queen (#TGIT) as the creator of popular ABC shows Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and Scandal.

In a recent interview with Fast Company, Shonda shares gems on how she leads and develops her team, and how she manages her business. Here are the top nuggets from her interview.

She starts her day before the day gets the best of her 

In the article, Shonda discusses the idea of having ‘me’ time and its importance. Shonda not only has a successful and busy career, but most importantly she has three children to love and take care of. Being a parent and businesswoman is a hell of a job and for self-care and productivity reasons, ‘me time’ is a must for Shonda. As Shonda stated in her interview, “I have three small children, so I try to get up well before them so that I can have some quiet time and be in the right head space for the day. I use that time to catch up on the news. Sometimes I use it to just do nothing, sometimes I use it to make notes for work.”

I believe that having me time before work is critical so that you can have time to clear your head and do things that you want to do before you have to do work for someone else.

She develops her team by empowering them

Sometimes when you have employees that are not natural go-getters or take initiative to do and learn more, they become complacent. When they become complacent, they don’t grow and their growth stunt doesn’t do your business or you any good. I totally believe that you are as successful as the people on your team, and you are a better manager when you train and develop your people to become promotable. However, what do you do when your employees don’t feel motivated to make their own decisions? As Shonda said, “In order to do all of these shows, Betsy [Beers, my producing partner] and I had to allow people to rise over the years. Sometimes people don’t want to be empowered because they are afraid of being the person to make the decisions.”

In my own line of work, I’ve learned that sometimes you have to first voluntarily train your team and then delegate tasks to them, even when it makes them uncomfortable because it is out of the normal daily duties. By doing this, you are forcing them to make decisions and learn more, which will hopefully inspire them to rise up to their own occasion and be more.

She encourages her staff to be self-reliant and to believe in themselves

You ever had someone complain and complain about an issue but have zero solutions to their problem? It’s pretty annoying huh? Similar to the rules in my own workplace that I manage, self-reliance is also highly encouraged in Shondaland. As Shonda told Fast Company, “At work I have a rule that you’re not allowed to come into my office unless you’re coming into my office with a solution to a problem, and not with a problem.”

Yes, Shonda! 

She understand that good management =using your team

I totally believe that you are nothing without your team, and it looks like Auntie Shonda believes the same. In her interview, Shonda exclaimed, “First of all, I don’t do everything myself. Every show has a writers’ room. Grey’s writers’ room is huge—it’s 15 people.” Although Shonda is the mastermind behind her popular TV shows, she understand that her success couldn’t be achieved alone and that when you collaborate with others, magic happen.

At the end of the day she leaves work at work

How guilty are you at over-thinking about work once you get home and into the wee hours of the night? Hopefully not too guilty. Having work-life balance doesn’t just mean physically leaving the office on time; it also means truly leaving work at work and not doing anything work-related when your shift ends. Shonda appears to be a believer in work-life balance, and she said in her interview, “The last thing I do at night is make a list of all the things that are in my head so that I don’t think about them while I’m trying to sleep.”

Before you go to bed (or preferably when you leave work), make your to-do list for work and leave it right there (at work). Go home, focus on your own personal items, and spend needed time with your family and friends (and most importantly yourself).


What are some ways you lead and develop your team? Share below and let us know!

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