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by Alan Hargreaves

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Entries in leadership (16)


Three steps to avoid micromanaging

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Help people get on with it.

Here’s a quote from management professor, Henry Mintzberg: “The manager does not leave the telephone, the meeting, or the email to get back to work. These contacts are the work.”

Most managers will relate to that. On the one hand, the flow of interruptions, requests and enquiries is a source of constant frustration. On the other, constant communication is at the center of successfully running any team or any business.

What’s the right perspective on this? 

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Management confidence: the 6/24 Factor

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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?

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Want a more collaborative enterprise?

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Make a simple start: encourage joint responsibility.

Collaboration might be the buzz word of the moment but “command and control” is still around in management behavior. It sort of goes with the territory. If you are in charge, you figure you have to lead from the front.

It’s a hard model to break. Even if you practice that core management skill – effective delegation – you invariably just delegate the right to command and control to some other person.

You tell them what you want, give them the responsibility and the requisite power and let them get on with it. Individual responsibility, rather than shared responsibility, is often embedded in business culture. This kind of delegation perpetuates it.

Try something different.

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Struggling with tough times? Try leadership

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A case for crisis management?

Taking off on a short flight 20 years ago, our plane lost part of its landing gear. There was a loud explosion; the aircraft listed violently. We knew something was wrong, although we didn’t know what. 

Within minutes, the pilot explained the next move. He would circle the airport while the debris on the tarmac was examined. Engineers with binoculars would assess the state of the undercarriage. He promised an update shortly.

The comfort of clarity

I can’t stress how comforting it was to simply be told that he was on it. He was calm and he was initiating a process. We were no longer quite so much in the dark. His next broadcast was both good news and bad news: the starboard wheels had fallen off, but everything else was working.

The plan? We would continue to our destination. We were already airborne and we had to land somewhere. It might as well be where we were going.

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Financial literacy: knowing what you know

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Aligning business intuition with financial arithmetic

You've got a brilliant idea. You make an excellent presentation to the board. A director asks: "What discount rate are you using for NPV over five years on this."

You’ve got no idea what he’s talking about. Your confidence slips. So does your momentum. You say you'll get back to him.

A lack of financial literacy won’t necessarily hold you back. There’s plenty of self-made business people with no business education. The issue often arises with success. You were a great salesmen and an even better marketing director but now you are running the whole shop. There are some things you are expected to know.

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