My husband and I recently traveled to Italy with several of our family members. We were fortunate enough to be hosted by dear friends of my in-laws who are natives of Pesaro. The landscape was breathtakingly beautiful; the architecture was inspirational. I enjoyed the savory food and delectable wine, but what most impressed me most was the allure and authenticity of the people and their relationships.
From the moment we met our new “friends”, we were embraced as family. We did not have to “do” anything to earn or deserve their affection… we didn’t even have to “wait” for a certain period of time to prove ourselves. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We were welcomed with warm smiles, holding of hands, sincere hugs, kisses on the cheek and instantly meaningful conversation. I immediately became skeptical (even though I loved it). I thought… “This is just because they are long term friends of my in-laws”. Over the course of 10 days in Italy, I found this sort of charm and openness to be legitimate in relationships and consistent with most of the people I met. We were also fortunate enough to be in a location that was not populated with tourists. So, our experience was authentically Italian. Whether I was meeting someone in a shop or observing total strangers interact, relationships were the center focus.
This experience caused me to reflect on my own view of relationships and how I interact with strangers, new acquaintances, and even a friend I run into, on the street. I have a tendency to be very focused (especially during work hours). If a specific time was not scheduled, I rush any “interruptions” or “spontaneous encounters” in order to get back to my scheduled agenda. I realize in doing this, I may be missing out on much of the richness of life that my Italian friends have mastered.
As I reflected on my own behaviors in relationships, I began to think about the importance of relationships in leadership. If you have spent any time developing yourself as a leader, you know relationships are a vital part of being successful. I wonder how many of us know this in our head as true (theory) but struggle to genuinely practice it. I realize I do. Even though I have spent years talking about how important relationships are, my short time in another country proved I do not practice it as much as I should.
I am writing this to challenge myself and other leaders like me to make room for spontaneity in relationships and to embrace a less guarded approach… an approach that focuses on the individual and what they are saying and not on the next meeting. I also encourage you (and myself) to not be afraid to appropriately give a hug or a pat on the shoulder. I think we may both discover this to be rewarding both personally and professionally. I am also confident there is a positive unintended by-product of truly connecting with people. Many times, we're looking for all kinds of ways to motivate people. Cultivating relationship frees up that mental energy we're using, because sincere and meaningful relationships are the motivational carrot that brings loyalty, commitment and drive. I realize my behavior may never be as my new friends in Italy; however, I can work to be a little more like them.
What are your thoughts on this subject? If this is an area you would like to further develop in, I'd encourage you to contact us to discuss leadership coaching.
While creating a training program for newly appointed managers, I reflected on commonly faced challenges, as well as my own personal experiences. One of the greatest challenges I faced as a new manager was micromanagement. In fact, I may have been the worst micro-manager ever (to all of you out there that I may have micromanaged, I apologize).
Micro-Managing to Create “Mini-Mes”
Micro-managing drove me crazy, so I know it drove my team crazy. As these embarrassing and painful growth experiences went through my mind I began to process through the reasons a new manager, or any leader, micromanages. I decided to throw the question out on Twitter™ and received great feedback from my Twitter world, including these answers:
I think all these suggestions can be correct for different people in different situations. Upon pondering my own personal reasons for micromanaging, I found several of these to be true. I was a star individual performer who was promoted to management without any training in leadership. I knew how to do my job well as an individual performer. Once I was promoted, therefore, it made sense to create “mini-mes”. This is a really bad idea. It’s not a way to win friends and influence people. I thought that to increase someone’s performance all they needed to do was to do exactly what I did before I was promoted. I thought this would make them successful, thus making me successful – huge misconception. I know to those of you in leadership, this is obvious, but more often than not, it is not obvious to a new manager.
I was also fearful. I still made bonuses, but they were no longer based on my individual performance. Instead, they were based on the team’s performance. In my young mind, this made it even more reason to create little “Me Robots.” If they could do the job exactly as I did, they could generate the same revenue I did, and we should all be happy… right?
As with most new leaders I was tapping into familiarity. I was doing what I knew how to do, but what I was doing was not producing the results I hoped for. It was not until one of my team members was leaving the organization that I had to face the truth. His parting comment to me was “you use the word team all the time, but there is no team here.” It was then that I realized that what I was doing was not working. I decided to educate myself on the skills of leadership. Following are the seven things I learned that helped me to regain perspective.
All aspects of the leadership journey are part of an insightful learning process. We never “arrive” and we are always gathering new information to apply. As leaders, it is meaningful to reflect on our journeys, seeking ways to improve our methods and style. As you reflect on your own journey, ask yourself what you have learned and how you can help new managers along the way.
Why do you think leaders micromanage? Do you have some tips to help micro-managing leaders overcome this addiction? Please share you thoughts by leaving a comment to this article.
Thanks for joining us again for the third post for the Strategic Transformation Series. In the first two entries we talked about The Strategy and Engagement Connection & To Plan or To Transform? We look forward to your comments and questions as we dive into how strategic planning can not only enhance your company’s bottom line, but the engagement of your employees as well.
True transformation comes down to Intent. If our intention is to truly transform our organization through strategic planning, then that significant intention will require significant action.
Create a Strong Foundation If your last strategic plan is collecting dust on the shelf, let me ask you a few questions:
By answering YES to these questions, we show our intent to create strong foundation for success by HOW we prepare. Important work and we haven’t even started the planning! This important phase of creating cultural preparedness for your organization will help you create that all important buy-in from your teams that you need to have the transformation you desire.
Once you’ve created the foundation, it’s time to get to the business of planning. Here are some things to consider as you create the high level strategy that we are all familiar with.
Strategy, at its heart, is about great communication. Remember – this intent is that this strategy be something everyone in your organization understands and lives by. Be mindful of the strong foundation and work to develop the goals and objectives collaboratively and interactively through a series of facilitated sessions that draw upon all stakeholders’ input and perspectives.
As you write the plan, keep the messaging clear, concise and actionable. Less is more. Consider a strategy map to help as a communication tool that can help to internalize this strategy in your culture.
The typical next step is to issue the plan to the entire organization and instruct that they cascade the high-level goals and objectives into their operational divisions. We might even instruct that performance goals be tied to this strategy.
This all sounds good, in theory. However, Implementation Planning is often missing key results such as:
HOW you plan to implement the strategy is key to its success. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste; be sure to create a consistent process by which divisions are creating work plans that contribute to an overarching organizational work plan. Then work collaboratively to ensure the proper priorities and resources are allocated to TRANSFORM your organization!
MSBC brings an innovative approach and a team with extensive experience to guide your leadership through this Strategic Transformation process. Let us know if you like to learn more at .
This is an issue entire books are written on. I believe the major reason new managers fail is due to lack of training. New managers go into a position with “sugar plums dancing in their heads” and wide-eyed wonder of how fantastic it is to be a leader. It is wonderful to be a leader, but it is also a challenge.
We have to look at why people get promoted to leadership. It is usually because they were great individual performers. We then take them out of the role in which they have: excelled, built identity, and earned autonomy. We then we put them in a role where they are the “new kid on the block”, have not managed people before, and are trying to figure out who they are in this new realm. That seems to be a recipe for disaster and yet it happens every day. Instead of being responsible for themselves and for personal results, they are now responsible for a team of people, motivating and managing different personalities, and let’s not forget still having someone above them telling them what to do.
I think there are a several challenges that a new leader faces in this new opportunity. I will list them below with a few suggestions as to why this happens:
My husband and even my dear friends refer to me as a control freak! I own and operate a catering business, and yes I’ll admit I have a tendency to micro-manage (one time I almost divorced my husband and now ex-chef just because I thought his cilantro pesto was too salty!) How do I break away from my compulsion to control everything while maintaining top notch food service and quality for my clients?
– Control Freak in Harrisonburg, VA.
Dear Control Freak,
You have taken the first big step with any personal challenge and that is, “owning it”. In order to improve a behavioral pattern we have to first be aware of it, the second step is to make a plan of action. Most of our problems do not stem from what we do not know, they manifest from doing nothing. Below are some suggestions that should help:
Changing anything takes time, but staying focused, developing a plan, and surrounding yourself with accountability partners will keep you on track. Following these steps will relieve stress on yourself and your business colleagues, plus give you more fulfillment in your life. Now how do I get a hold of some of the cilantro pesto?
As a leader of a team or an organization creating a culture of transparency can be a powerful tool to build trust and organizational cohesion.
But what should we share, and when? How much is too much?
One thing to consider the type of information, is it tactical or strategic? Is it key to executing the next steps on the path, or is it helping to make sure we are on the right path? The level of information and the way it is presented will depend on what its purpose is.
Tactical: How can you tell if you are giving too much information a leader about day-to-day operations or a specific project? How much of the details of what you are doing (behind the scenes) or reasons for your decisions do you make should you share?
When it comes to transactional information – its important to keep people in the loop – but more often than not, it should be at a higher level. Just as you aren’t always interested in HOW the job got done, just that it did and satisfactorily, by keeping status updates and decisions made at the summary level, it allows them to make informed decisions and act on their own with a more comprehensive understanding of the impacts of their decision.
Too many details will make your meetings long and expects your team to be able to connect the dot and understand their impact to their work at the same time. Make it easier for them by giving the highlights and the outcomes and offer offline explanations to anyone interested.
Strategic More often than not, we need to share the strategic vision and mission of our organizations and projects. This helps to make sure everyone’s activities are in alignment with the overall expected outcomes.
Most of us communicate the “What” and the “How” of our activities pretty well, but it is also important to share "Why" we are doing them. Good things come from including why we are doing things like:
When in Doubt: