We build statues to the knight in shining armor. Everybody wants to be one.
Implying that the rest of us are there to be rescued.
I met a woman in class today. We exchanged pleasantries. She used to be a manager, she said. And volunteered this:
"One thing I learned is always to ask people what THEIR process is -- before changing anything. They love that."
Gee, I need to do that more, I thought.
All my life I have hated micromanagers. But when I became a manager myself, I inadvertently fell into the trap:
- No matter how well-meaning you are --
- No matter how accurate your conclusions --
- Even if the staff are asking you to do it --
...you can't adopt the posture of a savior. People have to find the way for themselves.
The issue goes back to ownership. The old "teach a person to fish."
- In the short term you can dominate the team and sure you will drive results.
- But long term you may be cutting yourself off at the knees. Because you cannot do all the work alone -- cannot anticipate the issues or resolve them as well as a distributed force of "trained killers."
When your value comes from being a "hero," the staff necessarily adopts a helpless pose. What else should they do?
So there they sit, like long-ago Chinese princesses with their feet bound so tightly they cannot walk.
And they do try to work where they can. But all they know how to do is react -- sewing pretty things by hand, but not building sewing machines.
So what if you are not the rescuer, the turnaround king, the genius?
Where is your value then?
I think it goes back to 5 things, executed consistently (e.g., operationalize the brand):
- Strategy - have a plan for getting things where they need to go
- Communication - tell everyone the plan, update it, work through issues
- Staff Development - take time to make sure people are doing what they're good at, and growing
- Technology - fight for the equipment to work as fast as possible
- Relationships - network as much as possible to find ways you can achieve mutual goals while sharing the burden
In real life success is gained through the team. Heroes are a lucrative fantasy for Hollywood.
* All opinions my own. (Photo by me.)