The power of being you
Let’s just say there are only 24 things that people are good at. There may be more, maybe less, but when I make a list of those things, I tend to run out of steam around two dozen.
The list might include athleticism or empathy, mathematical competence or organisational skills, strategic thinking or the ability to concentrate, just to mention six.
Of those, I’m only good at two.
Overall in life, I probably do OK in a few more – in total, maybe five or six. Those are what drove my career. They generated most of the success I had along the way. Six out of 24. Twenty-five percent. That’s what it took.
When did I fail most?
When I spent time worrying about not being good at the other 18. Wondering what to do about that 75% was a personal hurdle every time I was promoted.
Perhaps that should be no surprise. Once you are put in a management position, you’ve got a lot of things to manage. As many as two dozen. The trouble is you can’t do all two-dozen things, just as you can’t be 24 different people.
Promotion can be both uplifting and daunting. Suddenly you are running the team. On the one hand, you are excited and motivated, but on the other, fear can erode your confidence in meeting the challenge.
It’s not confined to employees. I’ve seen the same emotions in entrepreneurs who have launched a successful business that they now have to manage. They are not sure they can take it to the next level.
What can you do about this?
Focus on the six things that got you there. Your strengths impact on the role you are given. Job specifications are often designed with the candidate in mind. Whenever I promoted someone, I was often aware of his or her missing 18. I gave them the job because at that point in time, the role required one or more of their top six.
As a middle manager, the worst thing I ever did was chastise myself for my missing 18. Trying to do them was a waste of time. I wasn’t good at them. Others were. Yet it took my team to tell me that. In one of our morning meetings, I proposed I undertake a new project. They simply told me not to. Politely, they said I wasn’t good at that. They asked me to do what I did best instead.
So I did. In a brief moment of clarity I realised the key to management confidence is acceptance. Rather than get bogged down doing something you are not good at, find someone else with the right set of six and let them get on with it. It was exactly what my seniors had done when they promoted me.
Excellent management is not based on a fraudulent identity. There are all sorts of management styles. The best one for you is yours. It may be an administrative style, a marketing style or a strategic one. Don’t change it just because you’ve got the corner office.
The 6/24 Factor is a rough rule, but it will help you succeed.
Focusing on your missing 18 will hold you back. To build momentum and confidence, put 100% effort into your best six. They drive you and your team forward. When it comes to excellent management, that’s where great leaders make their most effective contribution.