Monday, November 5, 2012

Old-fashioned Management Memes: Who do You Want to be as a Leader When You Grow Up?

What do I know?

Feel free to look me up here.

meme mēm noun: an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by non-genetic means, esp. imitation.

As a manager (and reader of a bunch of stuff) for the past 20 years, I have had requests for management tips. Some things work; some don't. Some are magical wins. Some are spectacular failures. Your mileage may vary. Whatever the case, these techniques have worked magic for me, time and time again.

This tip is for managers that are not 100% sure of who they are... yet. You're welcome

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WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE AS A LEADER WHEN YOU GROW UP?

A good writer should write about what they know. I know about me and my experience. Maybe you'll get something out of this. Maybe not. My plan is to expand a lot of these ideas in future blogs, so this might be a good place to start when I've done enough of these.

TUNING YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE TO YOUR PAYCHECK
Over the last few years, I have gone through some interesting changes in my career. I have owned my own studios, contracted my services to others, and have even been hired by "the man." At each company, how my leadership style worked with the company's style has been fascinating.

As a leader, I believe in complete transparency, I attempt to live up to a standard of total, painful honesty, and I live within the realization that I don't know everything. 

MANAGEMENT STYLE FOR RENT
At my own companies, my leadership style is, essentially, the company's style. As a contractor, my leadership style is not for sale but for rent. If clients don't like it, then we don't have a deal. 

MANAGEMENT STYLE FOR SALE As an employee, my style has been bought. If my style does not match the style of the company, then there is some disconnect that I'll have to deal with somehow. I still have the opportunity to walk if I think I'm compromising who I am. But isn't this the way it always is?

SOMEONE ELSE'S MONEY
Although I have read hundreds of management / self-help / leadership books, I had to learn just about everything about real management the hard way. Luckily, I had the opportunity to learn on "someone else's money" at other companies. The culture of the places I worked at sometimes fought me while I tried to become the manager that I wanted to be.

HONESTY AND SURPRISES
I am 100% focused on being honest and factual as a manager. I believe that surprises are the enemy of team cohesion and progress. It's sometimes difficult for people to come to terms with managers being honest, because they are so used to people lying that they think there is another trick up that person’s sleeve.

BUILD A HEALTHY CULTURE
I have found that being a leader at any company that you do not own yourself is quite difficult. Unless you are the owner of the company, you cannot forge the culture of the group, so you are forced to follow the cultural "lead" of the organization. 

PROMISE WHAT YOU CAN DELIVER
It also is my belief that you cannot make promises if you cannot be 100% behind delivering them; all you can do is make a promise based upon the best information you have available to you.

LEADERSHIP IS TRANSPARENCY
Ideally, leadership, to me, is: full transparency, no surprises, and team involvement in decisions. When you lead, you must have transparency surrounding your goals so you know what the landscape is all about, whether there's budget, how other projects link together, etc. 

TRANSPARENCY IS SCARY
Transparency also means that you have to bare your goals to the world, so that if you’re smoking your own crack... everyone can tell you so. As a leader, you have to be ready to hear about that, too. 

PLAN AROUND SURPRISES
You have to create a plan with your team that accounts for as many variables you can, eliminating surprises and becoming ready for unexpected issues. 

TRUST YOUR TEAM
Finally, you have to get your team to help create a plan that will get you to where you want to go. They have to provide you guidance on whether your goals are actually possible given what they know about the landscape where they are the experts. And again, being a leader means being ready to hear about how the experts think things need to happen. It’s all about healthy feedback.

In my world view, more information is better, whether things are going according to plan OR if they are way off track.

INFORMATION IS POWER. CAN YOU SHARE IT?
My question to you is this: how do YOU deal with things when they start getting scary? Do you share more or do you share less? So far, I've had a lot of success when I shared everything. I don't think it's the standard way of running a company, but I'm not sure why. 

Any ideas? Bring 'em in the comment section!







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