Sunday, September 17, 2017

Differences Between Strong and Weak Managers

Good morning
"And the beat goes on......................."

In a Forbes article, contributor Jon Youshaei, offers 8 Differences Between Strong and Weak Managers.  Two of them stood out for me:

1. Strong Managers Focus On Progress; Weak Managers Focus On Process.

Youshaei offers:

"Yes, you need some process to keep employees in check. But when you have too much, you kill creativity. This is what ultimately drives the success of any organization. Don’t destroy it. Don’t be afraid to adjust or remove processes to help your team push the envelope. Encouraging progress, not process, is essential for your company's long term growth."

This is akin in a way to one of the GOP's pillars of their business agenda - less regulation.  And while that approach may not be the wisest course of action when you are considering areas that have the potential for huge negative impact on the populace (e.g., the finance and pharmaceutical industries for example), it may make perfect sense for nonprofit arts organizations where you want to encourage the organization to be nimble, and keep an eye on the bigger picture.  Getting bogged down in too much infrastructure ecosystem process keeps things too safe, and can be stifling and off-putting to staff.  Moreover, it smacks of micro-management, which kills creativity and independent thought, not to mention trashes trust.

2. Strong Managers Compete With Themselves; Weak Managers Compete With Others.

"The best managers understand that they are their own competition. You shouldn’t worry about what your colleagues’ career trajectories. Comparing yourself to others will only make you bitter. Looking inward, however, will help you find ways to improve each day. Fostering this mindset among your employees helps everyone."

While competing with others - in or outside your organization - is almost always counter productive and emphasizes the wrong priorities, I'm not sure he is right that strong managers compete with themselves.   Certainly strong managers are always asking more of themselves, pushing to learn more, understand better, be more productive, lead more intelligently and set that example to colleagues and staff.  But that isn't necessarily competing with oneself.  I think it's more of a competition with the challenge of being a strong manager.

I have a friend who is a scratch golfer, which means he doesn't have a handicap - he is expected to shoot par.  Now that doesn't make him a professional, but it makes him better than probably 97% of all amateur duffers.  He belongs to a club and plays at a variety of local courses, and frequently in local tournaments, because, he says "it keeps him competitive"  But not he tells me with the other players in a given tournament, and not, he says with himself either.  No, his approach he says:

 "has always been that he is playing against the golf course he is playing on any given day.  They're all different, and each one is designed to try to beat you.  I go out and play to try to beat the course, and that is a huge challenge.  I don't look at the leaderboard to see how I am doing against the other players.   I figure when I beat the course (break par by as much as possible), that I will win my share of tournaments. And I know that approach makes me a better player."

I think smart managers are doing the same thing.  They are competing against the challenge of making their organizations top tier, highly functioning and successful entities based on their own mission statements.

I would add yet one more to Mr. Youshaei's list:

9.  Strong Managers Let Their Staffs Take Reasonable Risks, Weak Managers Always Want to Play It Safe.

In order for an organization to thrive today, it must be nimble, flexible and adaptive and that means its has to be innovative.  You can't get to that goal unless you are willing to take calculated risks and that means you need to accept and embrace failure.

Check out his list, and perhaps there are other items you would add to your list of what makes a strong manager. A little self-examination, and thinking about it, might help you get to that designation.

Have a good week.

Don't Quit