There is no doubt in my mind that in order to be a successful manager, one must look at the profession as a calling that is way beyond a job with more status and pay.
That calling is about a focus on trying to bring out the best in people and maximize their potential. To this type of manager, success is seeing people thrive who work with them —not for them. They work together in pursuit of a common cause.
The role of a manager is very multifaceted and not everyone who enters the profession is aware of the many roles he or she will have to play. On any given day, a manager will be making decisions to ensure the operations are running as efficiently as possible.
At other times, that manager will be a coach and providing development for members of their staff. They will be responsible for hiring people, other times being a disciplinarian and once in a while will need to terminate an individual for non-performance or to balance staffing needs.
There are times that will require the manager to be part psychologist, counsellor, friend, leader, spokesperson and entrepreneur. At other times they will need to be a resource allocator, negotiator and disturbance handler.
In addition to its complexity, management is also very situational; it is a mentoring opportunity which happens individual by individual. To reduce it to its essence, I would boil management down to three essential skills areas they must develop:
1) Task skills, which includes problem solving, time management, performance leadership, planning, goal setting and organizing.
2) Interpersonal skills, such as delegation, team development, integrating differences, providing feedback and participation which involves sharing power with staff.
3) Personal skills that include the act of processing stress, maintaining commitments and acting with integrity.
The rest of this column will address the components of these personal skills:
A manager’s ability to handle personal stress includes managing crises constructively and reducing stress for employees. This involves seeking and discussing all options calmly and openly when under stress or dealing with a crisis.
These managers are able to solve complicated problems by staying in control, using the information available, and making a rational decision. When things go wrong they calmly correct the situation by coping with the unexpected, remaining in good humour and working on the problem through to resolution.
Many years ago, I had the opportunity to interview a great leader renowned for his ability to affect positive turn-around for corporations in trouble. I asked, “If you were to reveal your one big secret, what would it be?”
He said, “When things go wrong in the business, people are already stressed and want to resolve the situation. As a leader I have a choice, I can get emotional and upset which will cause even more stress. Or, I can choose to go out to the workers and say, I know you are already stressed and doing your best. As your leader, what can I do to take stress away? I found the latter option always produced the best results.”
Maintaining personal commitment involves accepting heavy workloads without complaint. It is expressing trust and confidence in the organization and top management while applying your best all the time. It means you will do whatever is necessary to help in an emergency or when problems arise.
Acting with integrity will gain the trust and confidence of others. To achieve that, you must mean what you say and say what you do. It means you will admit your shortcomings, develop your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. Integrity means that you deal in a straightforward manner with people and will not compromise, even under duress, what you believe to be true.
Great managers use their influence to represent the concerns of associates and promote their interests. They freely share the credit with group members when the group carries out assignments particularly well.
My question for managers this week is, “How are you personally preparing for the many roles that will make you proficient at as a manager”?
Joseph Sherren, CSP, HoF, P.E.I.’s Management Effectiveness Expert, has spoken to more than 4,000 audiences in over 25 countries worldwide. For information on workshops and speaking, contact Kevin at (902) 393-7177.