The other day I was listening to a Business week podcast hosted by Jack and Suzie Welch. In the cast they entertained a question from a new manager who asked, “What management style should I use when starting out?”
I listened to the rest of the cast where Jack and Suzy shared how the new manager should experiment and try out different styles until he found one that fit his natural style. I may be a bit slow here and certainly do not want to dis Jack (You cannot help but respect his accomplishments) but if the guy has a natural style wouldn’t he naturally start there? I am fascinated by questions such as this as they imply you can all but pick up a style from a shelf and try it out like a new sports coat.
That one doesn’t fit, this one is the wrong color, this one makes me look fat, aw but that one, sure it’s expensive, but look how good it makes me look!
Is it me or does this sound ridiculous! I realize this is a leadership site and the question was management style, I get that. What frustrates me is that management very much like leadership is not a toolkit you go to the store and buy (or in this case the training class, the college, the OD department etc) Leadership and management are founded on solid character and repetitive behaviors consistent with belief and objective. They differ in scope in that leadership is focused on creating a new improved reality, not accepting the status quo while management involves the efficient deployment of scarce resources to achieve organizational objectives and goals. They overlap a remarkable amount and often are confused with one another because, in my opinion, not everyone knows what both mean. Often times identifiable leaders are found in management roles. Notice I did not say all leaders are in management roles. No I said often identifiable leaders are in management roles. Why would this be? Leaders get things done in noticeable ways. They tend to step into the breech of situations early and often. Of course to those who risk much goes the reward.
So what of our young friend in his first management role? What would my advice be?
- Start by using whatever style you have! Management is not a spectator sport. Get in and gain some experience, figure the rest out as you go.
- Discover who you are. Take inventory of your personal values. Discover your purpose and how it fits into the organization.
- Seek feedback on how others perceive your style of interaction. Ask for advice on what trusted colleagues believe works well for you and what does not.
- Read several good books on management as time permits. Some obvious choices The First 90 Days (Watkins), First Break All the Rules (Buckingham and Coffman), Defining Moments (Badarracco), Managers Not MBA’s (Mintzberg) to name a few.
- Ask for help early and often on subjects you are not expert in. Learn who to lean on and who not to. Delegate judiciously.
- Take the Situational Leadership course by Blanchard. Yes its leadership but the tactical level it addresses transcends the subtle differences between the two concepts.
- Finally listen to my favorite management podcast manager tools
Lead and manage well