Are You Trying to Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear? 2

Do automotive technicians make the best service managers? Do great athletes have what it takes to be a successful coach? Just because someone is good at what they do – it doesn’t mean they will be good at doing something else. Not everyone has what it takes to manage others. I think managers need to be teachers first – and technically competent second.

Making the transition from worker to manager is very difficult and it can be made even more difficult if you are being promoted from within the same department or peer group. One week you’re a co-worker and the next week you’re their manager. The things that got you noticed on the shop floor are important and there’s no question you’ll have to bring that knowledge and experience with you in your new position. But you’ll most likely have to add some new skills to your manager’s tool kit if you wanted to be noticed in the corner office.

What makes a worker promotable? What qualities does a worker have that makes them management material? Are you basing that decision of their technical ability or their ability to get along with – and teach others what they know? (Hard skills vs. soft skills) If you had to sit down and write-up a job description for a manager – what kinds of things would you include on that list? What jobs do managers do? And more importantly – what skills or key characteristics will a manager need to be able to accomplish those jobs?

Managing is about people. If you don’t like being around people – and helping people to be successful – then you are going to be a lousy manager. Managing is about giving your people the tools they’ll need to be able to do the job you’ve hired them to do. Managing is about knowing what your people do well and then putting them in positions where they will be able to play to their strengths. Managing is about making tough decisions that may impact some of your people in a negative way – but you do it anyways because you know it’s the right decision to make.

Successful managers of the 21st Century will be:

Those managers who understand they can’t do it alone. That they need to build collaborative teams and surround themselves with people who are capable of doing some other things better than they do. And then staying out of their way and letting them do it. The day of the micro-manager is over.

Those managers who understand that they need to create an environment that is conducive to learning. They understand that adults can learn new things – given the right set of circumstance and delivered in the right way. That not everyone learns the same way. The trick is to teach them in a style that they like.

Those managers who understand that they don’t need to know everything. That it’s OK to ask others for help or advice. That the more they include their people in the decision-making the process – the more likely their people will want to come along.

Those managers who can look at the mistakes their people will make as “teachable moments” – to coach them and to train them on what they’ll need to know – so those kinds of mistakes won’t happen again. If you aren’t delegating and teaching others what you know then you are robbing them of their opportunity to grow.

Those managers who understand that not everyone is motivated the same way – but everyone can be motivated. They understand that they need to know what their people’s aspirations are so that they can help them achieve them. They understand that if their people win – they will win and most importantly their clients will win.

I believe we’re not born knowing how to manage or lead others effectively. It’s a learned behavior. We all start out making certain assumptions based on our past experiences and perceptions as to the kind of role we think managers and leaders should play. But we also have come to know from experience that our perceptions may not always be correct, and that sometimes, we have to change our way of thinking if we are to become better at what we do. Today’s managers need to change the way they manage to stay in step with a changing workforce.

Think about that the next time you are looking to promote someone – does this candidate have the skills needed to teach others what he/she knows – and or the willingness to learn how? Same old same old – maintaining the status-quo won’t cut it anymore. – 🙂 Cheers,

Why Women Will Rule the Economy of the Future – Jordan Weissmann 1

“It may be the Cock that crows, but make no mistake that it’s the Hen who decides when and where to lay the egg” – Margaret Thatcher.  The numbers continue to tell the story. According to research conducted by The Centre for Women’s Business – more than 10.1 Million firms are owned by women – employing more than 13 Million people. Women are starting more small businesses than men and those businesses are more likely to still be in business five years after start-up. (These are American stats but the numbers indicate that women are outpacing men in Canada as well)

Gentlemen if that doesn’t get your attention than this article written by Jordan Weissmann  and published in The Atlantic should. If the past is an indicator of the future than women will eventually outpace men in earning potential. It has long been argued that those who stay in school and graduate eventually earn more.  Men are still being paid more than their female counter parts for doing the same job – but the number of female graduates vs. male graduates suggests that will soon change.

Women are staying in school longer and are producing more graduates than men.   Low paying – manual labour type jobs are disappearing for a number of reasons. Education is now king. Those that have it – will be in a better position to fill the higher paying jobs.   Mary Matalin, former counselor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney was quoted  as saying – “Women around the World are rewriting history at a ferocious pace with or without mans permission”.  Yes Bob – “The times they are a changing”. Enjoy the read – Cheers, 🙂

Why Women Will Rule the Economy of the Future—in 1 Graph – The Atlantic.

Managers vs. Leaders – The Debate Continues 1

Do we manage more than we lead or lead more than we manage? Is there really that much a of a difference between the two to even bother trying to justify one over the other? A half-century ago Peter F. Drucker – who is considered to be the most influential management thinkers of all time – brought the practice of management to the forefront; and other notables have been trying to “one-up” him ever since. The debate will continue long after you’ve read this posting.

I’ve spent 40+ years managing and leading people, and based on my experiences I believe the two: managers and leaders, have more in common with one another – than not. They are  mutually inclusive of one another – not mutually exclusive of one another. The lines between the two are definitely blurred – if not disappearing all together.

“Leadership cannot simply delegate management; instead of distinguishing managers from leaders, we should be seeing managers as leaders, and leadership as management practiced well.” – Henry Mintzberg

The role of Manager and Leader is situationally based. You must insure that the day-to-day tasks that need to get done to make the organization work are being done (that’s managing). But you also need to spend some of your time thinking about where the organization needs to go to stay competitive and to maintain or grow your market share (that’s leading). To be successful, Managers and Leaders need to be able to communicate, educate and delegate effectively if they are going to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization, and / or implement the changes necessary to take the organization to where it needs to go. And … in order to do either of those jobs well, they need a variety of skills.

Both Managers and Leaders need to be able to:

  • Problem solve and resolve conflict
  • Build collaborative teams
  • Teach and mentor
  • Communicate and listen
  • Plan and forward think
  • Be patient, empathetic, flexible and open-minded.

Henry Mintzberg is right. Forget about being a leader – practice managing well and people will want to follow you. You may have been given the title of manager, or people may refer to you as their leader, but if no one is buying into what you are saying or choosing to follow you – then it really doesn’t matter what title you have. – Cheers, 🙂

There’s Smart – And Then There’s Smart Enough

“You don’t have to know everything – You just need to know where to go and look it up” – I love that quote by Albert Einstein. Those are great words to live by – especially for first time managers, team leaders and supervisors. I wish I would have come across that quote earlier on in my management career. It would have saved me from myself on more than one occasion. What I lacked in competence in those early days I sure made up for in self-confidence. I suffered from a chronic case of  “foot-in-mouth” disease. I figured if I looked like a manager, and talked liked a manager, people would think I was a manager. I was always afraid that someone was going to find out that perhaps I wasn’t as qualified to be a manager as they thought I was.

When I was first promoted to a management position I thought that being a good manager meant that I had to have all the answers. I thought that being a good manager meant that I had to be an  expert at doing everything. After all – isn’t that what good managers do? Wasn’t that why I was promoted to manager in the first place? Thank goodness it didn’t take me too long to realize that – that was the farthest thing from the truth. The fact of the matter is – You don’t have to be the smarted person in the room to be the most successful manager in the room. For most careers – intelligence is highly over-rated. You only need to be smart enough.

You won’t always make the right decisions purely based on what you know – unless you know for certain – that you have all the facts. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve made a decision before I had all the facts and then ended up saying to myself, “Well if I had known that – there’s no way I would have done this”. Hindsight is always 20/20. Successful managers understand that managing is a team sport and they don’t have to take the lead all the time for the team to be successful. Successful managers understand when it’s time to lead and when it’s time to follow. Geese figured that out a long time ago. When the geese fly in formation, the leader does not remain the same. In the course of flight, several in the flock will take turns moving to the front of the formation. As the leader tires, it falls back and takes its place with the other followers, while a new leader emerges at the front of the V.

Be a sponge. Learn all you can from the people around you. Good managers know what they know. And more importantly – they know what they don’t know and they’re not afraid to admit it. Don’t play a game of smoke-n-mirrors. Don’t make up the answers as you go along. You don’t have to have all the answers – but you do have to know who to go to find out. “A specialist is someone who does everything else worse” – Ruggiero Ricci