Category: Management Philosophy

Lose the Battles But Win the War

Fighting All Battles

When I was a young supervisor I wanted to fight battles. Every problem that needed to be solved I saw as a battle to win. Being focused on winning these little battles that it made me short-sighted. I did not see the long game and because of it, I damaged relationships and my reputations.

A lot of new supervisors and managers run into this problem. And if truth be told, I still struggle with it from time to time. But I have gotten better at understanding the long game and have become better focused on winning the war. In other words – winning hearts and minds.

Understand the Long-Term Goals

To put it another way, problems come and go. We need to keep them in focus and in scope. Understanding what the long-term goals are can help. Focusing on where you want to be and what the ideal situation looks like with all concerned parties in mind is the way to win the war.

Not every problem needs to be solved. And not every problem needs to be solved to your satisfaction. Sometimes we must let others win to build and grow relationships.

This doesn’t mean that we sacrifice things that are important to us. It just means that we need to prioritize what things are important and which are just nice to have. The nice to have things we can live without meaning we can let them go allowing others to get some things they want.

What is Important?

Equally important is understanding what things are important to our long-term success, and the success of the team, organization, etc., can help us to focus on what matters and let go of things that don’t matter.

By changing our focus from picking battles to winning the war we open our view to what’s good for us to what is good for the organization. We become team players. And in this way, we will win more than we lose.

Being picky about what battles you fight shows others that you are willing to compromise. It shows a level of maturity. And it brings more people into your circle of influence.

People want to be around a winner. Winners understand the importance of other people to their success. It is only by being able to engage, inspire, and work with others that we can become winners.

Questions to ask when determining the problem resolution path:

1. What will be the long-term effects of your problem resolution?
2. Consider the cost-benefit of the problem resolution?
3. What are the relational costs of the problem resolution?
4. How will the resolution benefit the organization?
5. Does the resolution leave other people whole?
6. Do alternative solutions exist that may lead to better outcomes?

Lose a Battle to Save a Relationship

Ultimately, whatever path you decide to take when dealing with a problem make sure you understand all the ramifications before acting. Once you damage relationships it can be hard to repair them. Make sure that you have clearly defined the problem, the relationships involved, the effects of certain actions, and what the long-term consequences of your actions are.

Keep the long-term results in mind. What you do today can have negative consequences that can take years to overcome. Better to move slowly and lose a battle than to lose the war and your career.

What is Accountability – Podcast Episode 2

What is accountability?

In this podcast, we flesh out in greater detail what accountability is and how to maintain it in a way that positively engages your team. Check out my blog post on accountability that is a companion piece to this podcast.

In my blog post and podcast, I dispel the myth that accountability is the same as discipline. Further, I assert that discipline is not the first step in accountability, but is the last action that should be considered.

Why is this important?

There are too many managers who want to attack problems. They see every problem as a nail and they are hammers. Because of this, they fail to achieve true accountability and destroy trust with their team.

Today, people need to be engaged in a positive manner. Discipline is often used to cover up for the failures of the manager. Accountability starts with good communication. It starts with establishing what the end goal of the team’s action is.

What will you learn?

You will learn what the goal of accountability is. What actions are important for you to ensure your people are being held accountable. And, you will learn tips and strategies for maintaining accountability. You will also learn why discipline should not be the primary focus of accountability strategies.

Why I Want You to Succeed as a Manager or a Supervisor – Podcast Episode 1

Podcast Episode 1

I want you to succeed as a manager or supervisor.

When I started out as a supervisor I had no clue what I was doing. I lacked the people skills necessary to be successful. Because of this, I experienced anxiety and depression. Looking around I didn’t have a lot of good role models to help me. Most of my fellow managers and supervisors were of the old-school variety. Those techniques no longer worked in the changing work environment that I found myself in.

I had to learn and adapt my management style to meet the needs of the workforce I was tasked to lead if I wanted to succeed. It took a lot of hard work, discipline, and study.  Having a mentor to talk to and bounce ideas off would have made the work much easier and enjoyable.

What this Podcast is about

This podcast is about helping managers and supervisors learn better ways to lead people. I want to help you learn how to succeed in leading people. And even though I don’t necessarily have all the answers to every problem, I hope to be able to challenge the way you think about these problems and get you thinking in new and creative ways.

My goal is to be your online mentor, coach, and fellow traveler in your career journey. I want to help you make your workplace an enjoyable place where both your employees and you thrive.

We spend 80 percent of our week at work. This shouldn’t be something we dread. People can be difficult to deal with. At the end of the day, the only thing that you have control over is yourself. If you take accountability for your thoughts and actions you can create a work environment that you will be excited about. People aren’t the problem, we are.

The Challenge

I challenge you to reconsider everything you think you know about being a manager and supervisor. Question how you view your people, your organization, and yourself. Challenge yourself to let go of what you can’t control and focus on what you can.

Join me and let’s learn together how to take ownership of our careers.

Scarcity in Management and Supervision

What is a scarcity mentality and how does it related to management and supervision?

A scarcity mentality is a belief that there is a limited supply of some resource. It is a belief that where one person gains another must lose. I have seen a lot of supervisors and managers who demonstrate a scarcity mentality when it comes to giving praise and recognizing the contributions of others. These managers feel threatened due to their own insecurities.

Do you believe that if somebody else comes up with a better idea or receives the recognition that it diminishes your contributions?

There is a level of emotional insecurity that belies the belief that when someone benefits somebody else loses.

If you are secure in your abilities and contributions then you should never feel threatened when somebody else achieves something that exceeds what you have contributed.

The scarcity mentality is destructive not just to the individual manager or supervisor but also to the team. Believing that another’s gain is a loss puts you in a competitive situation with your fellow managers and subordinates that is damaging to relationships and team cohesion.

If you believe that to get ahead you need to take ownership for all good ideas you will stifle your team. It will cause them to withdraw and not contribute. An atmosphere of distrust will develop that will undermine your ability to lead effectively.

How do you overcome a scarcity mentality?

First, you need to realize that there isn’t a limited amount of recognition that is available. The ability to recognize and to be recognized is unlimited. Just because somebody else has a good idea doesn’t mean it takes anything away from you.

Also, you need to recognize that if somebody on your team comes up with a great idea or innovation it will benefit everybody on the team including you.

Second, embrace and show support for those who bring innovative ideas to the team. As a leader, you will get more recognition if you lead a team that continually contributes innovated ideas no matter who comes up with them. Leaders who encourage and recognize innovation will succeed far more than those who do not.

Third, understand that one good idea generally leads to another good idea. Instead of a lack of something, there is a true abundance. You can build off the ideas of others to come up with something even more beneficial. Remember to give credit to the originator of the idea that you used as your jumping off point.

Finally, get over yourself. Put your own ego aside. Have a genuine appreciation for the ideas others bring to the team. Being part of an engaged team that is trying to improve the organization should be exciting. Take it as a badge of honor that you have people working with you who care enough to share their ideas. Be a manager or supervisor that inspires people by recognizing their good ideas and contributions.

A scarcity mentality only creates division, destructive competition, and distrust. It leads to people pulling back and not contributing to the greater success of the team.

Let go of your insecurities and realize that the world is infinitely abundant. We all have something to contribute and there is no limit to the amount of recognition that is available. By celebrating the contributions of others, we create a workplace that inspires and encourages innovation.

Recognize that you are abundant, your workplace is abundant, and the world we live in is abundant. What is good for others is good for you and vice versa. Be thankful for others. Their contributions will lead to your success if you open yourself to the possibilities of abundance.

Do You Have a Management Philosophy and do You Need One?

What is philosophy and is it important to managers and supervisors? For the purpose of this post, I will use the following definition of philosophy as our guide:

Philosophy as:
A: pursuit of wisdom
B: a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means
C: an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs
(Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/philosophy)

Based on the above definition we see that philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom in order to gain a general understanding of values and reality. It is about analyzing the underlying fundamental beliefs of a system of thought.

As managers and supervisors, we need to understand the concepts of managing people and resources as well as the belief systems that surround these areas. Without this understanding, we are merely going through rote motions that may or may not lead to success. Without a deeper examination of our actions and the reactions of others, we cannot expect to enjoy any lasting success.

Most of us probably feel too busy and overwhelmed in our daily duties to give much thought to our beliefs regarding the philosophical underpinnings of what we do and why. But I think that if we are going to be successful in managing the people and resources entrusted to us we need to have at least a basic idea of what we believe is the best way to accomplish our work and measure that against the reality of what really works and what doesn’t.

In addition, we need to have a grounding in general management philosophy so we can take advantage of the best ideas that have been tried and tested. In the endeavor of human knowledge, no man, or woman, stands alone. As has been noted by others we truly stand on the shoulders of giants and we should take advantage of this inherited knowledge.

There are many schools of thought on the best way to manage and lead people including Robert K. Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership, Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits, and Jack Welch’s Welch Way among many others.

While reading about these different systems can give you new perspectives and tools to use they should only be used as guides to help you build your own personal management philosophy.

Because we are all different in how we think, interact with people, and view the world we each need to take in the knowledge around us and use it according to our own gifts and weaknesses to form a system of management that works for us and for the teams that we lead.

Coming to an understanding of what your management philosophy will be will require you to sit down and figure out what you believe, what your values are, and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

As somebody who thinks deeply about management and writes on it frequently, I would suggest that you keep a journal or diary to write down your daily thoughts.

Take just 10-15 minutes a day. I recommend doing it at the end of the day after you have had time to process and absorb all that you have experienced in the day.

Think about what things went well and what things did not go well. Really think about the underlying causes. Identify what made things work and what did not.

You have to dig deep under the surface. Don’t stop with the first cause you come across. Look deeper to find what is under the surface. It is only when you dig deep that you will get to the truth or root cause.

Over time you will begin to see where you are being truly effective and where you are falling short. Once you start to identify patterns in your behavior you will be able to develop the fundamentals of a successful philosophy to managing people and resources based on your knowledge and experience.

Another thing I would strongly recommend is to identify what your core values are as a manager. How do you view your role in relation to your organization and the people you lead? Why did you get into management? What do you hope to achieve in your role as a manager or supervisor? How do you want the people you work with and lead to viewing you? What words would you like them to use when they describe you?

This exercise will help you to define what things are important to you. You can then use this discovery process as a starting point for creating your own management philosophy.

As the writer and philosopher Ayn Rand once said, “Philosophy provides man with a comprehensive view of life. In order to evaluate it properly, ask yourself what a given theory, if accepted, would do to a human life, starting with your own.” (The Ayn Rand Lexicon, pg 361).

Philosophy is a comprehensive theory that helps you to understand the correct way to manage. It is about taking in the collective knowledge of others who have come before you and integrating it with your beliefs and experiences. It can help you to create a system that not only leads to your personal success but should also lead to the success and enrichment of everyone you interact with and lead.

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