LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT
Better leaders with better skills build better organizations and get better results.
Management and leadership are specialized roles that require unique skills. The leaders and managers you have are critical intersection points for decisions, data, communication and people. They have a big impact on what works and what doesn't. Unfortunately, most people in management roles don't get real training on how to do their job, despite how important that job is.
When leaders don't prioritize or aren't aligned on how to deploy resources, waste, confusion, and frustration will be common. When managers work around issues instead of dealing with them or are inconsistent in their expectations and standards, conflict will increase while morale and productivity decrease. Good people will leave. Real training gives leaders and managers the skills they need to effectively support the people around them.
Practical training for leaders and managers includes:
- Accountability & Effective Confrontation
- How to Prioritize Work & Focus Resources
- Active Management
- Leadership Development (Including You)
ACCOUNTABILITY & EFFECTIVE CONFRONTATION
Healthy, effective, efficient organizations understand the critical need to provide real accountability. Real accountability creates clear expectations and maintains real standards. It is a form of support that helps people be effective every bit as much as genuine and appropriate appreciation. Learning to have professional, respectful conversations that are clear and direct is a very important skill. (Creating systems for tracking and managing work is an important part of helping leaders hold people accountable. See Track & Manage Work in INFRASTRUCTURE.)
In addition, the inability or reluctance to address real issues is one of the most common and perhaps the single most destructive problem in the majority of organizations. Without an actual strategy for difficult conversations, it's common for leaders to either ignore real issues or dance around them in an effort to avoid an uncomfortable or upsetting exchange OR to resort to aggressive or angry blow-ups. When done correctly, confrontation changes behaviors and/or results without damaging relationships. (A basic outline of my Curious, Confused, Concerned Method for confrontation can be found on pages 24-25 of the free article "Bigger is Different: Solving the Infrastructure Problem You Don't Know You Have.")
HOW TO PRIORITIZE WORK & FOCUS RESOURCES
The more work there is to do, the harder it is to be disciplined about what to focus on and what to ignore. Surprisingly, the biggest waste of time for most professionals is NOT spending time on distractions from work. The real problem is spending time on low-value tasks instead of working on the important stuff. (Answering emails vs. planning.) And the problem is multiplied as you move up the leadership chain. Leaders don't pick priorities, don't communicate them clearly, change them frequently, or all of the above. This leaves team members reluctant to take action without checking in or vulnerable to criticism for picking the wrong thing to focus on. Both are a tremendous waste of physical resources and emotional morale.
It is critical that leaders learn how, and build the habit of stopping to evaluate current priorities and make needed adjustments. The work you consciously decide not to do is often even more important than the work you commit to. Beyond identifying the priorities, focusing resources means identifying and dedicating the necessary material support, as well as communicating the current priorities to your people and maintaining focus to produce the needed results.
Micromanagement is not management. It's dysfunction masquerading as attention to detail. It's not productive or helpful to stick your nose into every little decision or redo completed work for petty reasons. Just as common and just as bad is Passive Management where you assign work, often without sufficient clarity or instruction, and then assume things are handled. Hope is not a management strategy.
Active management means providing clear goals, feedback about process, training as needed and actual accountability throughout. You don't do the work for them and you don't ignore them. You stay engaged and you know not just what results your people are producing, but how they are producing them.
Successful leaders actively manage both their people and a few critical indicators so they know things are on the right track and can get a heads up when things are starting to go wrong and take action to fix them. Whatever you do not actively manage tends to go off the rails sooner or later, usually sooner.
Training managers in active management gives them a key set of skills that is missing in most organization and can dramatically increase productivity and morale while decreasing waste and frustration.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT (Including YOU)
Your managers are responsible for communicating critical information, making decisions about deploying resources and they are likely to be the reason good people stay or go. They have a disproportionately high impact on your bottom line, the quality of your work environment and how much frustration you personally have to deal with. The higher they are on your org chart, the more good they can do or damage they can cause, therefore the more skills they need. And most receive very little formal training or support at all. Untrained managers often end up causing far more problems than they could ever actually solve.
Do you train your managers and leaders? Do you have at least a one page cheat sheet to tell them what you expect of them or to give them strategies for how to be a manager or leader? Do you have a plan for overcoming your own weaknesses? Do you know what skills you want and need to develop next and how you plan to do so? Does your team know what you're working on?
You don't have to spent tens of thousands of dollars on every manager and leader every quarter. But you definitely want to think about what your people know and don't and what you're going to do about it. Strategic investments in training and developing leaders produce significant returns.
Have some questions?
Like talking to a real person? You can call me directly at 720-273-3286. (I still answer my own phone.)
Prefer NOT to talk to a real person, at least not right away? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also learn more about how a project starts here on THE PROCESS page.