Manager and Leader – The Mixology for Success

Managers are the single greatest factor in retaining employees (Gallup Organization, State of the American Workplace, 2012). CEOs who wish to retain top managers need to see them as important resources and nurture them accordingly. Nurturing good managers is crucial to building great companies. So what are the factors necessary for managerial success?

Having a coach helps managers build stronger skills and resilience. Companies that offer coaching enjoy marked performance improvements—not only from managers, but from those who report to them, as well. The ripple effect of successful development!

Executive coaching grants managers time to practice introspection, which is necessary for ongoing learning. Job pressures frequently drive managers to take on too much work, encourage interruptions, respond quickly to every stimulus, seek the tangible and avoid the abstract, and make decisions in small increments.

Effective managers consciously deal with these pressures, taking time to step back, view the broader picture, seek others’ expertise and carefully review analytical information.

Becoming a more effective manager

Conquer the challenges associated with managerial demands by developing introspection skills and insights. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Be aware of which roles you naturally prefer. Don’t ignore those that make you uncomfortable. Stretch beyond your usual limits, depending on what the situation calls for.
  • Be sure to disseminate information to others so you can delegate more and help your people grow more self-sufficient.
  • Avoid the traps of superficial decision making because of time pressures. Make use of other experts and analysts.
  • Schedule time for the tasks you believe are most important. Don’t let daily pressures crowd out time for reflection, innovation or other critical values. Make sure you are as focused on fire prevention as you are on firefighting.

The mixology of managerial success

Stanford University Management Professor Robert I. Sutton notes in “True Leaders Are Also Managers,” an August 2010 Harvard Business Review blog post:

I am not rejecting the distinction between leadership and management, but I am saying that the best leaders do something that might properly be called a mix of leadership and management. At a minimum, they lead in a way that constantly takes into account the importance of management.

“Meanwhile, the worst senior executives use the distinction between leadership and management as an excuse to avoid the details they really have to master to see the big picture and select the right strategies.”

As an adjunct to Bennis’ oft-quoted distinction between managers and leaders, Sutton proposes the following:

“To do the right thing, a leader needs to understand what it takes to do things right, and to make sure they actually get done.”

When we praise the value of leadership and begin to denigrate management’s role, we greatly risk failing to act on these experts’ obvious, yet powerful, messages.

What’s your experience? Are you over-led and under-managed? Do you favor one at the cost of the other? What would be the impact if you were to focus on both, and achieve the appropriate mix for managerial success?