Today’s blog is a guest post by Rich Jacobs, Principal of the Richard Jacobs Management Institute and former Vistage International Chair for sixteen years. Rich recently published a book: The Ten Disciplines of Leadership – The Ultimate Playbook for Success. (Richard A. Jacobs & Charles B. Dygert, Ph.D).
Following is an excerpt from his book. It applies to leaders at the beginning of their journey and can be used as a “review” or “check list” for experienced managers to identify areas of potential improvement. A future post will provide the remaining fundamentals.
Creating a strong foundation of management skills is critical for success of both the manager and those being managed. Jessica is a new manager in a technology firm. She is highly committed to doing a good job and proving herself. Early in her tenure she finds herself overwhelmed with the volume of work and struggles with delegation. She is worried that people will think less of her for “pushing her work off on others”. Her team is complaining that they are bored with the mundane tasks and frustrated that she is so busy that she isn’t able to meet with them. Jessica is struggling with elementary management skills like most new managers. By strengthening her ability in the fundamentals, she will quickly create an engaged team and correct the productivity slump her team experienced when she took over this role.
Four Management Fundamentals:
1: Set clear values and consequences for nonconformance. If you are a person with assigned authority in an organization and observe behavior/acts that are counter to your company’s values/culture – what do you do? You must go to the “scene” and acknowledge – in some fashion – that this is unacceptable. There are many ways to do this – select the one you feel will be the most effective and is your normal “management style”. One approach is to walk over to the area and engage each person in a probing manner by asking questions. “Is this how we do things here? If not, what should we be doing?” The objective is to point out the error in their behavior and acknowledge the correct approach. If the situation escalates, then action should be taken. This may come in the form of a formal letter of discipline in their file.
2: Set expectations and deadlines and follow-up on progress. Do not do their job for them – even though it might be easier and save time. Give an example of how you might follow-up that supports employee performance and engagement. Each week sit down with your manager and decide on the projects to be worked on for the next week. Agree on what results are expected and how they will be measured. This can be done in person or via e-mail. Coach them on how to succeed. Define the consequences if results are not met. This is how accountability becomes part of the company’s culture. It defines what is expected of each associate.
3: Set boundaries – each person in a leadership position has “limits of authority” – stated or unstated. Each person should work his/her direct reports and with the people he/she report to establish these boundaries. There are different ways to do this – here is an example.
• Items I want you to always come to me first to talk about and decide action plan
• Items I want you to come to me with your recommendation and action plan to discuss
• Items I want to know about but do not need the details
• Items you should just do and not bother me with
4: Discuss strengths and weaknesses – There are several schools of thought on this one. However, most of us do best when working with our strengths. What are your strengths? Are you using a strengths based assessment like the Gallup StrengthsFinders to identify your strengths? What additional skill training would you like to have? Make this a part of your personal strategic action goals.
We will explore the additonal fundamentals in a future blog from Rich.
To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.system to a regenerative, inclusive one that can ensure the thriving of our biosphere and ourselves.