When I was a young engineer, "Management" was the term used to describe the process of running an organization or a group of people to achieve a desired result. The person responsible for heading up the organization was referred to as a Manager. Management by Objectives and Time Management were indicative of the predominant management philosophy that prevailed. Today these terms are still used, but the more dominant philosophy has changed to one of "Leadership" when referring to the process of guiding an organization of people. Notice that I used the word "guiding". That's the role of a Leader. I have never met anyone who likes being managed. I certainly don't. Do you?
Fortunately, over the years, the value of the individual in most organizations has achieved more recognition. An individual can contribute much more to an organization when allowed the latitude to fully express oneself in an open and supportive environment. Traditional management typically was more structured and the individual was managed for specific results, therefore not being able to realize one's full potential to contribute. Objectives were usually established by the Manager with no commitment or "buy-in" from the employees. Leadership, on the other hand, defines the desired organizational goal and asks the employees to establish their own individual objectives for achieving the organization's results. This provides the opportunity for commitment and "buy in" on the part of each employee. It also provides the employees with the opportunity for self-fulfillment when the objectives are achieved. The Leader's role, in this situation, is simply to guide the employees toward achieving their objectives. The employees feel a sense of control over their work and the Leader is free to spend his/her time looking forward rather than being buried in day-to-day operating details. In any business, Management is essential but not related to the employees. The business needs to be managed - not the employees. People need to be led. Several years ago I developed an Operating Philosophy that works for me. I share it here with the hope that some or all of it might work for you.
LEAD THE PEOPLE!
MANAGE THE BUSINESS!
- Create a "shared vision" for the business and empower others through coaching and encouragement. Build self-esteem and commitment.
- Establish an atmosphere of "openness and trust" to assist in identifying and solving problems. Honesty is a must to allow problems to surface and be addressed.
- Establish a "what's possible" mentality tempered by the realism of what's practical.
- Stretch your people through "commitment" and insist on top performance from everyone in the organization.
- Acknowledge those who produce results. Be generous with appreciation!
- Be aware of your own "boundaries of experience". Draw on the collective experience of your team. Involve them in guiding the business. Get their ideas!
- For a new business, establish a "survival before growth" mind-set.
- Keep the entire organization up-to-date on the status of the business (good or bad). Each employee must know the significance of his/her role in helping the organization succeed.
- Ask questions that "provoke thoughtful inquiry" rather than evoke direct answers.
- Do not make changes without discussing them with the people involved. You may learn something!
To manage the business:
- Focus on the goal. Make sure that everyone's actions are in alignment with the mission.
- Contain risk! Identify the issues that could be fatal to the business. Address them first. (Usually, only two or three issues make the difference between success and failure - find them). Implement action plans to eliminate or minimize the impact of these critical elements. Develop alternative scenarios! Create new possibilities!
- Develop a "window of expectation" for the key parameters of the business, not just single points of expectation (pass/fail). Most failures come from unrealistic expectations.
- Cash flow
- Product schedules/performance
- Quality/service/customer satisfaction
- Monitor the "trend" of these key parameters, not just single point comparisons. Look behind the numbers!
- Keep focused on the marketplace and maintain close contact with your major customers and key suppliers. Build long-term relationships.
- Stress "effectiveness" rather than efficiency. Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!
- Create "transformation". Continue to break limits. For yourself and the business.
- Invest in equipment, computers and productivity tools to optimize the workforce.
- Hire the best people available. You don't need as many if you do.
Good luck in your role as a Leader!
Bruce Doyle has over 20 years experience as a Corporate Executive, Career Coach, and Business Consultant. His book, Before You Think Another Thought, published by Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Charlottesville, VA is dedicated to helping individuals achieve their full potential by having them realize that it's their own beliefs that create their limiting life experiences. Bruce is on the Board of the San Diego Leadership Initiative, has over 15 articles published, leads Power Up for Success workshops, and serves as a keynote speaker. He can be contacted at email@example.com.