Manager’s Corner: Lunch, Legacy and Leverage

Get Your Lunch and Succeed

Have you ever been hungry for lunch and not able to focus on anything, let alone accomplish anything, until you get some food? Your focus is on one thing; getting food — now. That becomes your foremost goal and the direction of your actions. Everything else is put aside or is addressed only half-heartedly until you stuff something in your mouth. Until you get some food, you have no interest in discussing, starting, or working on any other project.

As you read that paragraph, could you relate to the urgency of needing food — now? How many of you started to get hungry and forgot whatever else you had been working on? As humans we have a limited ability to effectively focus on more than one thing at a time. However, whenever we focus intently on something, we direct our energies towards it – and often achieve it.

As managers, many of us need to develop or strengthen our abilities to maintain a single-mindedness of focus so we can more effectively achieve our business goals. We can’t become tunnel-focused and work- obsessed, but we need to develop a consistency of focus to ensure that what we’re focusing our minds and energies on, are issues that will keep propelling us and our organizations forward. If the things we’re currently focusing on won’t move us forward, why are we wasting our energies on them?

Therefore, if what you need are more and better trained employees, how much time today have you spent actively recruiting? If you need to increase sales, what have you been doing today to generate sales? If you need to re-align services to better meet customer needs, how much time have you spent today making the necessary changes? These examples sound rather basic, but you’d be amazed at the number of organizations that grumble about these or similar issues daily, yet only address them half-heartedly. The issue that seems to be the main problem area is addressed as a third, fourth, or fifth-level issue. With that level of focus (and energy), how can one hope to resolve it effectively and quickly?

To gauge your single-mindedness, ask yourself and your management team these two questions:

  1. What is the most pressing issue facing our company (your department)?
  2. What specifically have we done to address that today?

If you’re not feeling the same sense of urgency for your most pressing issue as you did with the food example I started with, that should be a pretty clear indication to you that you’re not as focused on your pressing issue as you should be; therefore, you’re not putting as much energy towards it as you could be.

Become more single-focused. Become as hungry to achieve your business goals as you are to get your lunch.

What’s Your Legacy?

A former client just contacted me to tell me a gentleman, who had attended one of the training programs I presented to her organization two years ago, had died of lung cancer. She wanted to tell me about Al’s passing, because my program had made an impact on him. She also knew my memories of him would make me smile – they did.

I had only worked with Al and 40 of his co-workers for two days, but I remember him clearly. He was a portly man, had a great smile, and had a wonderful attitude about life. When he participated in my training program, he was one year away from retirement. However, unlike many other employees at that stage of employment, he still participated willingly in the training program. He wanted to learn whatever he could to become a better person, a better employee, and a better support to his customers. He was THE person in this particular training group who was the target of many jokes – and he loved every moment of it. Of course, because he was kind and supportive of what I was sharing with his group, there were good-natured cat-calls thrown his way including ‘Teacher’s Pet’. With each one, he’d just smile and laugh along. Whenever he could make someone else smile or laugh – a colleague or customer – to Al, that was an opportunity not to be missed.

I thought I’d share Al’s story with you in the hopes that you take a moment to ask yourself – How will my colleagues, employees, customers, vendors, and others remember me when I no longer work here? Will they remember me and smile? Will they consider the time they knew me to be of value to them? Will they remember something I taught them? Will they be inspired to do something I used to do? Will they help someone else because they remember how I helped them? OR, will they remember me, shake their heads, and forget me?

If we run through these self-reflection questions, we may be become even better managers and leaders. If my employees remember me and smile, they must have liked me as a person because they felt I liked THEM as people too. If they consider the time they worked with me as VALUABLE, I must have helped them to achieve something good or to improve in some way. If they remember something I TAUGHT them, I must have helped them grow as professionals and people. If they aspire to emulate me, I must have been a solid ROLE MODEL for them. If they help someone else because I HELPED them, I must have ‘been there for them’ when they needed me. However, if they simply shake their heads and easily forget me, I didn’t fulfill the true responsibilities of my job: I failed to lead people, I only managed resources.

Thanks Al. You can still make me smile.

What’s your legacy?

Increase Your Power; Give it Away

The old adage, ‘You’re only as strong as the people around you’ is true. Yet so many of us in management tend to forget it, and in doing so we weaken our own management and leadership power bases.

Many of us fall into the trap of hoarding power, even when we don’t think we are. We hoard our power by limiting the information we share. We hoard our power by not delegating the authority, as well as the responsibility, for projects. We hoard our power by interacting with only a select group of key employees. The problem with hoarding power is that one person can effectively control just so much power. There’s a point at which one person can focus and manage effectively. This point, once reached, will then limit how much and how effectively the organization will grow and operate. This point, once reached, also marks the limit of our management and leadership power.

To ensure your ability and your limits for management effectiveness and power continue to grow – give some of your power away. What! Give away a limited resource? Are you nuts? Maybe. But give power to those around you and you’ll see your organization surpass its former limitations.

Share the appropriate information with the appropriate personnel so they can learn and take on additional responsibilities. Delegate the authority as well as the responsibility for projects to give others the opportunities to learn and to experience the true highs and lows of project management. Give power to those outside your normal select group to identify prospective new key players. Give others the opportunities to become powerful in their own rights. The stronger they become; the stronger you become.

Empower your people. Leverage your power. Grow a powerful organization.