Why Few Executives Are Skillful Managers
Posted by sureshkrishna on August 19, 2009
Cross posting from HarvardBusiness Blog. Very interesting problems with Senior executives…
It is your job to delegate as much as you possibly can: your ultimate goal should be to delegate everything, find a successor and move on to a bigger job. If you are having trouble letting go or trusting others, try to remember how it felt when you were given the first big challenge of your career. Did you relish the challenge? How did you approach it? Did you succeed? What did you learn about the job and yourself? How did it help you to move forward in your career?
Remember that however talented you are, your career is likely to have stalled had your boss not trusted you with a challenging piece of work. He took the risk and delegated: now it’s your turn to do the same. No excuses, just follow the rules.
2. Managing distance
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a manager is to spend too much time either in your team or away from it. If you are too close, you risk becoming a micromanager, you can lose perspective on the business, you can become too friendly and lose authority within the team, and your team can become over-dependent on you. Being too distant, on the other hand, can result in a directionless team, potential crises, lack of control, and you being perceived as too remote or political. Also, maintaining social distance is an important discipline for managers that should not be overlooked.
Visibility and personal profile are important for your career as well as your team, so make sure you are being seen and heard in the right places. If you don’t manage your reputation and profile, someone else will do it for you — and they may not have your best interests at heart. Take time to network, share your successes, and ask to be included on steering committees or cross-functional initiatives to create opportunities to showcase your talents and your team’s achievements.
4. Work-life balance
It’s incredible that this point still needs to be reinforced. Remember that you are a human being, not a machine. You may pride yourself on being able to work long hours, never taking a holiday and putting your company before your own health and well-being (and that of your family). But be very clear that you cannot do this forever. Sooner or later your health will give up and you will no longer be in control. Burnout is a one-way ticket, so be sensible. It’s smart to look after yourself. Work reasonable hours, keep the weekends sacred, leave early one evening a week and build in an exercise schedule. Not only will this help you keep effective, it will make you easier to be around and probably prolong your career.
5. Continuous learning and reflection
Adaptability and being able to flex your style as your company or situation changes are critical. Seeking feedback, identifying your development needs, and monitoring your own progress are all vital if you are to develop as a leader and a person. Lasting behavioural change requires time, patience, dedication, and support, so don’t expect it to happen overnight. One of the best things you can do to support yourself is to give yourself time and space to reflect: try to schedule a meeting with yourself for an hour each week for reflection.