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Monday, March 31, 2014

I Want To Change The World, But Am I Qualified?

    In the article, "Why Great Managers Are So Rare", the author talks about how "Gallup finds that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time."   That means less than 20% of the time people hired or promoted to a management position are actually ready or capable of high performance in a management position.  Yikes! 

    I'm a manager, so of course I'm now worried that I'm one of the 82%.  I'd like to think I'm doing pretty good, but truth is I'm certain I am deficient in certain areas.  Perhaps that's an advantage for me.  By being aware and asking my boss and subordinates (I hate that word) for feedback, such as, "what do you think I could do better?", I think helps me look at my skills and actions with a critical eye.  I believe we should always look to improve our competencies and that we will never be perfect or ideal.  I will always be a work in progress.  So does this mean I'm not a good choice to be a manager?

    The article talks about five (5) traits common among great managers: they motivate every single employee to take action and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision; they demonstrate assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance; they create a culture of clear accountability; they build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency; and they make decisions based on productivity, not politics.  No argument here that these five traits are important, but I think there's so much more that needs to be included - additional traits if you will - and some of them are learned, while others are not.

    Here's the additional traits I think all managers should have or try to develop: a passion for the work to being done; demonstrating professional pride through discussions on core values, mission and collective impact on the community; care and respect for bosses and subordinates; a good life - work balance, by placing family first, having fun, and being active, and encouraging co-workers, especially subordinates, to do the same; patience with staff and the process (probably the greatest skill I've learned from my boss); a calm demeanor, especially when others worry or panic; a positive attitude each day and in every encounter with staff and customers; the ability to laugh at yourself (as Mike Veeck says, "we take ourselves not seriously at all . . . we take our business very serious."); a willingness to 'pitch in' when others need help or are short-handed; walk the talk by modelling the type of behavior they want to see others emulate; be professionally engaged with others in the industry (network and give back to the profession through service and leadership), and; a mindset of curiosity - always wanting to learn, grow and improve, and encouraging others to better themselves, even in ways that might not seem to be directly related to the business.
Mike Veeck at the 2013 Brand-Aid Conference in Arlington, TX.

    That's my list for now.  What am I missing?  Is there anything on the list that you think doesn't belong?  I know some items could be combined with the original five traits, but I don't believe the author meant that the list was finite. 

    I love being a manager.  I love my staff, working for my boss, and I can't think of a better organization for whom to work.  I love field of parks and recreation.  I love teaching part-time at the university in the recreation, parks & tourism department.  And of course I love my wife and kids.  So while I may not be the perfect manager or in the 18% of great ones, I sure hope I'm good enough to lead my team in the direction of doing great things for the community, and that they are each able to enjoy their lives at work.  Perhaps that's what managers need to do in order for their staff - the ones doing the really important work - to make a difference in the community.  Perhaps that's what's needed to change the world.

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