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by Alan Hargreaves

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Entries in personal development (11)


Beating Inertia

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What’s your big opportunity?

You probably know that you or your firm can go better. You are aware of specific strengths and you know you could knock the cover off the ball if you really gave it your best shot. Trouble is you don’t seem to get around to it.

Can you do anything about it?

There’s a couple of roadblocks you need to clear. The first is that you only need one idea, not lots of them. Having too many great projects can create more inertia than not having any.

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Handling negative situations

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To feel better, feel worse.

How hard is it to keep that sunny outlook going when you are surrounded by negative people?

For some reason, we feel we should be above this, that we can maintain our personal dignity despite the environment conspiring to press all our buttons.

Can we actually escape it?

I wonder. Many people learn to not react. That gets you part of the way. It also avoids escalation. In the words of my daughter, a closed mouth gathers no foot.

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Management theories: yours or theirs?

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Has management advice actually made any progress?

Doesn’t seem so. Prominent business leaders, management gurus, and leading academics – all three have a history of failure.

It can happen anywhere, anytime. I worked for three years in Singapore in the 1980s. Each year someone was designated “Businessman of the Year”. All three nominees suffered ignominious reversals before I had left, including gaol time.

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Getting traction on change

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Sometimes it’s better to lower the bar

Parents walk a tightrope between encouraging their children on one hand, and turning them off on the other. Some obsess about getting their kids to “reach their potential”. Others are so protective their children never get to “stretch” a little and discover new ground.

Where to set the bar is problematic. No one knows where it should be. In business, managers and entrepreneurs regularly set it too high. It’s all lofty talk about “raising the bar”, or clichés about getting going when the going gets tough.

I do not mean the actual goals are too ambitious. It’s more to do with the ladder they put in place to reach them. Either they set the rungs too far apart, or they expect the ladder to be ascended at an unrealistic speed.

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So you want to be an excellent manager?

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Are the usual things holding you back?

What are the usual things? They relate to these personal questions: do I have what it takes? Can I lead? Is my strongest suit strong enough?

The answer to all three is yes, but we often stumble over these questions. That’s ok. It means you are self-aware. If you don’t stumble over them, you may not have the humility to survive as a manager, let alone take the steps to make you one in the first place. Here’s five simple things you should do if you want to be a great manager.

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