I’m old school in my leadership style and thinking. But I’ve come to believe that, even today, those practices are sound and work. Here are some of my observations, actual leadership strategies used and important skills that work. They are all old school!
Awareness: Keep your antenna high to pick up important signals radiating from your workforce. Living like a mushroom and keeping yourself in the “dark” is not acceptable CEO behavior. This is one of the most important skills to master. You want your staff to tell the truth and not be afraid of a firing if they do. Create a system to get truthful feedback. Doesn’t mean you micromanage. Doesn't mean you interfere in the day-to-day responsibilities of your staff. You want the broad picture without neglecting critical components making success possible. Be clear and identify important information you need to excel at your job. Without direction, people will do what they think is right and that may not be what you need. Be clear. State your expectations so everyone understands the outcomes you want to establish for the organization.
Don’t be afraid to receive or share bad news: Strong leaders can accept any news about the business. In my past role as the corporate environmental manager, I reported our company to EPA. After my manager got over the shock of telling him my intention, I explained why. A new unit in our plant was creating unexpected permit excursions. The engineering firm that built this facility didn’t provide the correct environmental impact. I took a strong proactive position to head off any long-term repercussions. We met with EPA and reported our situation. Our proactivity was weeks ahead of EPA internal communications. The agency was grateful for our actions and allowed us a reasonable amount of time, without penalty, to correct the situation. Don’t shy away from sharing bad news and being proactive to correct a bad situation. It’s sound managerial policy that serves everyone well.
The buck stops on my desk. You cannot be a manager that points fingers at others. Accept responsibility. I’ve known managers that were good at finger pointing or passing the buck on to others. Their motto: Don’t blame me! Senior managers must ask this question before blowing a top by unwelcomed news: What have I done to allow this to happen? It was my most important personal accusatory question when an unexpected incident occurred! Think about these: You didn’t make expectations clear? We need more and better training? Inadequate resources are the issue? You’ve been too lax in your attention to detail? Doesn’t matter the reason. Always look inward before you make employees walk the gang plank into the ocean of blame.
It’s OK for someone else to help with your responsibilities. Delegation is a key activity to free up needed time. It will help to grow employee skills and responsibilities. It is an important managerial characteristics. Leadership expert, John Maxwell, agrees with me! (Couldn’t resist saying that).
Many managers don’t trust enough. They feel they are the only one that can complete a task. Here is my sin on that point. Before I became a manager, I ordered all the chemicals for our quality lab. After I was promoted to Lab Supervisor in a new company, I continued the practice. No one could do this as well as me! Ego! Ego! Fortunately, my eyes opened. I relented and trained one of my lab technicians to do the task. Nothing earthshaking happened because I didn’t do the ordering. Leaders and managers--take heed! Focus on the responsibilities only you can do. Delegate the rest. Assess yourself on this point. Train, trust and test the process. Do it right and you will gain valuable time. Don’t delegate and remain a slave to wasted time.
It’s About Wisdom: History says Solomon was one of the wisest men to ever live. Perhaps we can’t be Solomon, but we can grow wisdom. Flash!! Experience is the tutor. Build awareness to hear the news you need to hear. Accept responsibility. Free time for you to think more. These actions help you grow wisdom. Experience can be the great origin of wisdom if we file away knowledge gained. Connect the dots better with wisdom. Succeed more with wisdom. Gain respectability with wisdom.
The Last Word - Action: What are your managerial concerns? Make a list and begin the elimination process. Commit to their removal. Keep learning. Action grows your wisdom. Action helps to remove your concerns! Need someone to hold your feet to the fire? Contact me: Call 225-572-2804 or email Billy@SearchingForSuccess.com with your thoughts. I love doing this.