I spent several years running a leadership and management program for supervisors, managers, and executives. The following list is a summation of that experience and growing several companies. Once you have started developing your own talent, here are some rules for leading and managing.
Rules of Leadership – The Leading of People
#1 When in Charge, Lead. Nothing destroys your ability to lead than not taking charge. If you have the position people expect you to lead. When given a position of authority you have a legitimate right to give direction and provide support, do it or lose it!
#2 Unity of Command. This is a military rule that works in the business world. First everybody should have only one boss. Reporting to multiple people will run people ragged with conflicting demands and kills accountability because it sets up “lets you and them fight”. Second there is nothing wrong with people in the organizational chart disagreeing, in fact it is healthy. However, when you leave the office, everyone must speak with one voice. Airing your differences with the workforce hurts morale and portrays leadership doesn’t know what it is doing.
#3 Chain of Command. This is my second military rule. An open door policy for the people working for you is fine. If they work for somebody that reports to you, make that person handle the problem. If you jump over the organizational chart or allow people to run around it – the only outcome is conflict and loss of accountability.
#4 Be What You Expect. Role model the behaviors you expect. Nothing turns people off more than conveying the attitude of “do as I say, not as I do”. This is challenging in family based businesses. Just because somebody is a member of the family (or connected) doesn’t mean they are above the rules. If you allow this double standard, there is no real accountability.
#5 Treat Everybody as an Individual. Each of us is different with a complex mix of attitudes and personal characteristics. The essential questions to ask and answer is “does the person have the ability, does the person have the willingness” to do the job. Each of these require different treatment.
Rules of Management – The Management of Things
#1 Bring Order Out of the Chaos. The number one role of management is to bring stability and clarity to the work day. It is not the responsibility of the people reporting you to figure this out. Look at the situation, focus on what are the critical few now and leave the trivial many to later. Trust me, they will not make the same quality decision you would make.
#2 Remove Obstacles. This is the essential question whenever talking with the people that report to you. What is preventing them from getting the job done right and on time? Your job is to make it go away. Remember when things are not being done right or on time there are only 3 reasons – obstacles external to them are getting in the way, they lack of ability to perform, or are unwilling. If you don’t remove the obstacles accountability because impossible.
#3 Problem Solving, Not Fault Finding. Here is the deal – if people are shot for bringing bad news, you find out what is wrong when it blows up. You can deal with the guilty party later. Right now you have a problem that needs solving and they only way that can happen is for bad news to be delivered immediately.
#4 Solve Problems, Not Treat Symptoms. Once the problem is brought to your attention, make sure it is the problem. Many times we treat the symptom and wonder why the problem resurfaces later. I recommend the principle of the 5 Why – when somebody brings you a problem ask why did that happen and keep asking why until you get to the root cause.
#5 Everything has a Budget. Business is a game like Monopoly except the money is real. Everybody’s job is more than completing tasks, it is about advancing the business. Every job should have at a minimum labor hours and materials if appropriate. There are many methods of teaching the business to your employees, this is just the fastest.