To be effective over the long haul, you must fill your tank and fuel your passions. Overload and burnout are always waiting. Some of my long distance mentors are Jack Welch and Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne.
I am a strong proponent of Jack Welch’s core principles: being a winning organization, mission and vision, candor, differentiation, and voice and dignity. In his books and now discontinued podcast, he offers specific guidance on how to instill these attributes in your team.
I can camp out on philosophy, but management is about execution, not ideas.
I am a strong proponent of Mark and Mike’s Manager Tools podcast for practical, actionable advice: How to run a staff meeting, How to coach a direct report, How to write a thank you note, etc.
Get a coach (even through a book or podcast) and establish core principles (even if you borrow them from Jack Welch) that you can filter ideas and situations through.
Candor is mission critical. Pay attention to your temperature. If you are upset over an issue or person, then you need to have the difficult conversation. The best ideas flow out of a culture of candor. When we can challenge each other, and aggressively pursue good ideas, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to be effective.
Even though teams can be a great tool, we manage people not teams. Management repositions you from the realm of task efficiency to organizational effectiveness. Management is leveraging the hours and strengths of your people to accomplish a set goal. The best way to do that is through relationships. This is where the Managers Tool’s Trinity (one on ones or O3’s, coaching, and feedback) is practical and useful. My experience has proven Mike and Mark’s advice that O3’s are the most effective tool a manager has. O3’s help you build relationships and keep your fingers on the pulse of your department. More often than not, the O3 helps me provide what my direct reports need and helps me remove any roadblocks that are slowing them down. It’s not them serving me, but me supporting them. You cannot do that well if you don’t know what’s going on.
Understanding we manage people and not teams underscores the need for differentiation. If someone is struggling (or doing well), they should know that you know. Differentiation also applies to the things we do and not just our people. Keep your eye on the prize. If something does not add value, put your effort somewhere else, with your strongest assets–people and time–where it matters most. Although value takes different forms, value is not money, but Kingdom building.
Make an effort to build bridges with others. Have concrete plans that put something on the calendar–whether it is lunch or a quick face-to-face office meeting. Building a bridge is not a thought you have, but a thing you do. To be successful, you need a lot of bridges. They don’t build themselves.
Don’t forget that you are also the lead marketer for your team. Protect your team’s reputation. This isn’t about shaving the truth. This is about managing the perception of others. You influence that. How you say what you say to others, and when you say it, is key. If someone’s behavior is hurting the team, call them to account and explain the unintended effects and expect a change.
Management is like baking a cake. You follow the recipe and you get specific results. It is not an art that few possess. It is a skill with definable actions. Do them, and work hard at it, and you will achieve great results.