This week I’m trying something different. There will be a series of guest blogposts every other day from a good friend doing amazing work. I met Mo through Seth Godin’s Akimbo workshops – two aid workers in marketing workshops. Odd, but also instant connection. We’ve never met in person, but every time we talk I’m left pondering for over a week. Today is me (amos).
Management happens in many areas of our lives. Funnily enough, management is rarely a skill that is taught. It’s a bit like parenting or being an uncle/aunty, you are just supposed to know. Some organisations provide ‘management training’ of sorts but it tends to either be corporate indoctrination or how to conduct performance appraisals of staff to get more out of them.
Management, especially middle management, is hard to do well. Pressures and expectations come from all sides including inside ourselves. One of my favourite books is Marshall Goldsmith’s “What got you here won’t get you there” classic. In essence, he articulates the problem most organisations have. They promote the star performer to management and then expect magic. The problem is the things you did to become a star performer are the exact things you need to stop doing to be a star manager.
Management is a strange combination of managing and leading. It is always multi-directional. And it is all about others, not you. And that’s the challenge.
Good managers create the space for their team to flourish. They know each person needs slightly different engagement. Simon Sinek’s take on empathy sums it up beautifully and is worth watching at least once a week. Good managers don’t expect their teams to know everything and don’t berate their teams for getting things wrong. ‘Here, let’s try this again…together’ should be a common phrase. Unfortunately it is not.
There is management wisdom in the ancient African proverb – ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ Management is all about ‘together’. However the paradox of management is balancing the desire of organisational culture that bends towards keeping things the change – status quo. And the need to bend the arc to change.
And yes, I have and do manage teams. Most of the time I get it wrong, but sometimes I get it right.
Creating space is a choice. Just like implementing a punch clock is. How we manage and lead is a choice. And the choice is up to us.
Photo by Drew Beamer