Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good managers and lousy ones too!

After spending twenty-two years in the U. S. Military, I can say that I have had my share of excellent leaders, and lousy ones too. I myself have learned by doing, which means, I have made plenty of mistakes. This experience translates to my civilian life. And as so, you can use it to save yourself some time, expedite your business, and improve the bottom line.

When you are an entrepreneur, is easy to forget that you are still a manager, of one, but never the less, a manager, a leader, you are leading yourself. Unfortunately, not everybody has the tools to be one, or have being taught how to do it.

People tend to admire those who appear to obtain the loyalty of others, and are followed by all. But many are just looking at someone’s charisma, and thinking that they are natural borne leaders. Charisma does not equal leadership skills. I have seeing the young strong, rugged, and impetuous novice “leader” fall flat on his or her face, because instead of learning to plan, and think about the consequences of each possible course of action, the intrepid novice rushes in for the kill, just to fail.

In combat, it is those leaders that get their troops killed, while more experienced leaders, come out unscathed, and their troops, have greater possibility to survive.

In business, it is the manager who rushes in, who unless lucky, will loose his or her shirt.

Observing good leaders, I realized that there are a few tactics that will make you a better leader, manager, or supervisor:

1. “Sharpen your Axe”, I think that it as Abraham Lincoln who said that given one hour to cut down a tree, he would spend forty five minutes sharpening his axe. Take time to prepare yourself, gather knowledge, get to know and understand your contacts, and customers, also your market. Know and trust your product. If you are into Internet marketing, ensure that you become an expert in Search Engine Optimization. And also, make sure that you take time to exercise, eat correctly, and get a proper amount of rest. You will function better.

2. Stay in control. My father once told me: in order to solve a problem, you need to look at it. That was his way of telling me that I needed to analyze the situation, and find the real cause of the problem. Once you find the real cause, you can find the real solution.

3. Time management. Someone was asked to help create a time management system. This gentleman came back an next day, he told the executive to write a list of everything that needed to be done. He also ask him to identify which was the critical task. Then, identify the second critical task, and so on. Next day, he was to do task number one until completion, then task number two, and so on. Whichever tasks could not be accomplished that same day, that was fine, they could be move to next day, and priorities re evaluated. But the most critical tasks were accomplished every single day. Do the same.

4. Know your people, and their characteristics. Know their strengths and weaknesses; that way, you can use your team more efficiently.

5. Respect your team. You will only be respected when you respect others first. Take care of your team, and your team will take care of you. We call that “Leading from the front”. It is incredibly hard to lead from the rear; you are then only pushing your team, not leading, and nobody likes to be pushed. It is those who care for the team, lead by example, and are willing to go the extra mile, who distinguish themselves as leaders.

So in retrospect, make sure that you take time to sharpen the axe, stay in control so you can have a clear and accurate view of the situation at hand, mange your time, know your people and use them according to their skills, and make sure that you respect your team, and that your team respects you.

Let me know what you think.

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