Management, as we have come to know it, rarely works.
And, on the chance that it does work, it rarely works well.
Not only have I seen this fact first-hand in the thousands of businesses I have worked with over the past 40 years, but an entire industry of management consultants make their livings based upon it.
In organizations large and small, managers are frustrated and disillusioned. Caught between the demands of senior management and the needs of the employees who report to them, managers feel continually torn between competing constituencies, with little room for their own needs to be met.
When asked to explain their predicament, many managers will say their frustrations come from erratic leadership or a dysfunctional environment. Feeling trapped and underappreciated, pointing the finger outward is convenient and seemingly reasonable.
But is this the real answer? Let's pursue it a little further.
Are you a manager who had been eager and enthusiastic, but no longer derives any sense of meaning or purpose from what you do?
Have you lost any sense of ownership or investment in your organization?
Are you getting angrier and angrier at your boss and your employees? Are you letting this anger out at work, or keeping it bottled up inside?
Are you shutting down emotionally, creating distance in your relationships both at work and at home?
Are you working yourself to the point of physical and mental exhaustion, hoping that working harder will be the answer?
Too many managers answer "yes" to one or more of these questions. And, obviously, this represents a deplorable waste of talent.
We need to reinvent what it means to be a manager.
And it starts with this simple idea: To realize your true potential as a manager, to effect true change within your organization, you must first change within.
Because what's missing from your work is not more inspiring leadership or better motivation or more effective organizational strategy. What's missing from your work is YOU!
What I'm talking about is a change in mindset, rather than a change in performance. A change from within that will, in turn, reinvent the very job that most managers find themselves in.
Here are some highlights of this new, reinvented managerial mindset:
- A manager adopts an entrepreneurial mindset and operates his or her unit of the organization as if it were a small business of its own, in the most entrepreneurial manner possible, outside the body politic of the larger firm, yet, at the same time, serving the larger firm and its strategic objectives by identifying the role his or her group must play to fulfill them.
- A manager understands the profound difference between creating a business that works and getting a person to work.
- A manager exercises full authority and takes full accountability for the decisions he or she makes.
- A manager acts with conviction; in particular, conviction that the work being done has meaning and conviction that the decisions made and agreed upon are to be treated as commitments to oneself and to one another.
- A manager engages the people on his or her team and expects all employees to participate fully in the development, execution, and innovation of the organization's operating systems.
Finally, no manager can be successful who has ignored his own human nature. So it is imperative, as you reconnect with the YOU that is missing from your work, to confront the question, "What do I want?"
Without asking and answering that question--truthfully, honestly, openly, and directly--you won't be successful at managing anything. Because, without knowing the answer to that question, it is impossible to manage yourself.