What Is Leadership/Management?
Welcome to the Leadership course!
My name is Chris, and over the next ten days, you’ll learn how to be a great boss—whether you’ve been made a manager for the first time or have been a manager for years but never really got it fully worked out.
In this first lesson, we’re going to look at an overview of what a manager is for. Then in the following lessons, we’ll get into the details of what a great manager does.
What Is Management?
The essence of management is to get the best from your team—in a way, you actually work for them, and your job is to make sure that all tasks get done via the team working well together and all individuals being happy.
There’s been much written about the difference between leaders and managers, but in the end, they are very similar. Leaders focus a bit more on generating a vision and on motivation, while managers focus more on systems and efficiency—but both leaders and managers need to do it all.
Think about the captain of a ship: They don’t do anything themselves—they don’t cook the food, make the beds, or even navigate. They have a team that does all this, and the captain’s job is to make sure that they have a good team that’s motivated and knows what to do.
The Three Areas
So, here are the three main areas that a manager is responsible for:
• People—i.e., do you have the right people in the right jobs, and are they trained and motivated?
• Systems—i.e., is everything organized, without any gaps?
• Vision—i.e., where are you and your team going? What’s your future direction, and what are your short-term objectives? Even if you are only managing a small group of people within a large organization, you still have the job of deciding how your team fits into the overall vision and what the future holds for your team.
The captain needs to monitor and adjust the people and the systems while generating and communicating a vision. This is all held together by great communication. In fact, those who communicate also lead.
How to Communicate
There are three main ways to take information in and to give information out:
• A weekly team meeting. During such meetings, everyone in the team—including you, the boss—reports on progress: what’s happening that week, what’s going well, what issues have come up, etc. We’ll talk about this in more detail in a later lesson.
• Management by wandering around (sometimes known as MBWA). The manager should walk around the whole of their area every day, for between 30 minutes and an hour, and chat to as many people as possible in that time—different people each day, if there are too many to cover each time. It’s a chance to take the temperature, detect any issues, and assess the general mood, as well as a chance to evaluate the performance of the managers/supervisors in those areas and put your own messages across.
• Back to the floor. Once a year, the manager should spend a day doing one of the most basic jobs, something like cleaning, reception, being on the helpline, or going out delivering to customers. The purpose is to remind themselves what it’s really like, to learn about what really goes on, to get a chance to communicate the vision, and … well, to look good! It’s surprising how you can get out of touch as a manager, so this is important. Remember, you should do this when everything else is going well and you can afford the time, not when there’s a problem in that area.
Homework: Think about your people, systems, and vision—have you got all those covered? Make sure you walk around every day, and meet with your team every week. Make a plan now to go back to the floor once this year.
See you tomorrow when we’ll get into the subject of objectives.
Onward and upward!
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