The Dance of Management


From coaching businesses of all shapes and sizes, what I continue to see is that the hidden element that makes or breaks a company is it’s level of management. So what makes the difference in a great manager who truly leads and helps create a culture of ownership in the business?

The manager has the extremely difficult task of balancing the vision and needs of the executive level, to implementing that vision and inspiring the technicians to perform to their best. Management has often gotten a bad name in business, and to be fair, a lot of managers were never trained or led properly by their superiors. If the definition of a leader is to cultivate other leaders, than this falls on the shoulders of the owners of the business.

From Good To Great Management

1) Having a clear sense of the company culture. The more you resonate with and embody the values and ethos of your company, the more you will intuitively guide your department in alignment with the company’s values and purpose. If you are not in alignment with the values of your company, you are working for the wrong business. This comes from clear direction from your directors and executives, as well as position agreements that specify the results, standards, and tasks to implement.

2) Clear Communication - knowing now to relate to your staff and superiors is vital. There is a delicate balance in setting a tone for your department and leading, while at the same time being permeable to the needs of those above and below you in the organizational chart. There is a delicate balance to communicating in a clear way and respecting the reporting lines.

3) Your willingness to tolerate conflict and discomfort. One of the biggest pitfalls that I’ve seen in management is when a manager is leading with a heavy hand. Often underneath the heavy hand, they are often insecure around their relationship to power. The opposite issue of managers who avoid conflict and giving tough news to their staff for fear of not being liked, is just as damaging. It is truly an art to be able to feel your discomfort as you move forward in what needs to be done for the sake of the business.

4) Having a vision for your own department. It is vital to know the vision of the founder/owner/CEO of the business. The more connected you are to the big picture, the more you will know how to align your department and duties accordingly. That being said, it’s also vital to create a vision for your own department as well. What if you held your department as a small business in the company, that didn’t operate in isolation, but instead took ownership of their tasks in accordance with this bigger vision?  Managers are often able to recognize new innovations as they are often closer to the ground of the day-to-day activities of the business.

5) Not afraid to take risks. A quality manager is often characterized as being able to see trends and forecasting better ways of doing it. This requires innovation and a willingness to challenge the status quo of your company if you know there’s a better way. How you deliver this message to your superiors is as much an art form as anything else.

6) Creating an environment for employees to manage themselves. Instead of micromanaging your employees or neglecting them, what are the systems that you can put into place that will help with accountability, self-responsibility and feedback loops? The more people are treated like adults, the more they rise to the occasion. If they don’t bring self-responsibility, then this will also be obvious and not a fit for your company culture.