Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘management

Can you manage to be a leader?

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Happy05You walk into the office on Monday. You know that there’s a project due soon so you check in with key employees that have been assigned parts to find out their status and expected delivery time. You meet with other employees that you need to join the process and give them the appropriate materials and guidelines so they can start. You then head to your desk to provide a status report to your supervisor. Then it’s time to dive into your inbox and coffee while thinking how well the day has started.

Leadership or management? You might think this is an easy one, but in reality, I haven’t given you enough information to make a determination.

Leadership and management are status-independent activities. Certainly you manage down to your employees, but you can also manage up (ever have a boss that needs you more than you need him?) and even manage sideways. I’ve known many first rung employees that have demonstrated tremendous natural leadership.

Leadership comes from your actions and interactions. Leadership comes from within and is projected outward. Leadership is the ideal building block from which to build management skills that will create an environment of success.

So back to the original example. We know that our hero is managing people and a process. But was he leading?

To the first group, he took the time to understand the challenges they faced and listened to what they would need to continue forward. He worked with them to develop a feasible plan to enable them to be successful. To the second group, he shared the vision of what the project was about and what they hoped to accomplish. He invited feedback and insights into how the new group could add to the team. And he didn’t leave until they knew how they could get support from him if they needed it before the next check in.

Communication, actions, and attitude all contribute to your position as a leader.

It’s not about being soft and easily manipulated. It’s not about never making a mistake either. It’s about trying to do the best by the team at all times. It’s about having people want to follow you.

Following is always a voluntary activity. There is no such thing as a leader with no followers.

Written by Jeff York

June 28, 2009 at 12:09 am

Let me be honest with you!

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All too often, people find themselves in a situation where their bosses or clients ask an opinion. However, from past experience that person doesn’t feel that they are in an environment where their honest opinion is welcome. Rather than being honest, it’s just easier to tell that person what they want to hear. A potentially contentious conversation is avoided in the short term, but nothing of value is gained. Or worse, the truth is kept hidden when having an open and frank conversation would have yielded results.

Whenever I’m put into a management role, I spend a great deal of effort and energy toward breaking down the natural barrier that exists between employee and employer. I reach out to my staff to make sure that they understand that I want the truth and honesty every time, no matter what the circumstances. If I’m working on a project and I ask an opinion about my output, I want to know if it’s pure crap. If someone disagrees with a decision I’ve made, I want to talk about it. If it’s something that’s goinng to hurt my feelings, I don’t care. As long as we’re sitting down and having a 2 directional exchange of honesty with an environment of respect, then I need to hear it. Bring it on.

If you’re a manager, ask yourself “Do I do everything I can to get honest input.” By simply being a manager and asking a question, you will get input. However, unless you have done substantial work beforehand to create an environment that’s condusive to honesty, you’re not going to get it. And if you don’t get it, you not getting what you need.

Written by Jeff York

January 18, 2009 at 11:11 pm

It’s never easy being an Agent of Change

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You would be hard pressed to find a good manager that doesn’t believe in the importance of remaining nimble and implementing change to remain current with the ever-evolving business landscape.

But, if that’s true, then why is it so hard getting others to follow you as you act as an Agent of Change?

It’s been my experience that often people oppose change for a variety of reasons and not all of them are a conscious decision.  But all of them act as impediments toward positive change much to the organization’s detriment.

Perhaps the most sinister explanation revolves around having a vested interest in the status quo.  Human beings, by nature, like to be comfortable.  After we’ve been in a position for any period of time, we tend to get comfortable.  We know what we can get away with.  We know how to execute what is expected of us and how to deliver just enough to look good enough to not get fired.  Start creating change and you may create an environment where good enough isn’t good enough anymore.  You might start having employee’s weaknesses exposed.  A situation exists where people might have to accomplish more, accomplish differently, and maybe even take on responsibilities where they aren’t as proficient, interested, or accomplished.  You are threatening to take people into the unknown and that can be scary.

Oh man!  First you try to do what’s right for the company and then you have to do battle with your co-workers.  Is it worth it?

Let’s see.  Implement positive change and the company grows.  You prosper.  Those that battled you prosper.  Absolutely it’s worth it.  But you have to ask yourself these question first.

1.  Will I have the proper support of those above me?

2.  Will I be given enough authority to enact change?

3.  Is the change I want to do really a positive thing for the company or am I just doing this to look good and put it on my resume?  You have to be very honest here with yourself.

4.  Am I really married to the concepts I’m proposing or am I open to input from a variety of sources that might improve my original plan?

What have you done that’s created positive change within your organization?  During the development of the initative, did you encounter resistance?  If so, how did you counter that and turn adversaries into allies?