Thursday, March 31, 2011

Management Mini-Series: Lesson #3 - It All Begins With You!

“We are not only the messengers, WE are the message...”
Soulprints, Mark Gafni


As you rolled out of bed this morning, I bet your mind began to swirl with all the coming activities of the day.   If you are a parent, your thought flow probably began with, “ok..gotta get the kids up.” If you are a manager, it might have been, “I really need to work with “so and so” today.”

Whatever the many roles you play in your life; brother, mother, teacher, fireman, each of them demands of you a certain performance, if you will, a certain way of being and doing that will determine whether you will be deemed successful in that role by you and the others involved.

What’s so important to notice, to get in tune with is that amidst all the daily “role playing,” there is a YOU!...the person playing all those roles – you; the one and only - you…the YOU that exists as a unique individual with a heart, mind, spirit and body. It’s the you that has a myriad of feelings and thoughts throughout the day, some good and perhaps some not so good. 

Why is this so important to notice? I think for three key reasons:
  1. Sometimes the roles become more important than the YOU.
  2. We start to live those roles so unconsciously that we lose track of what we really want in life and what role those roles play in that.
  3. In that unconscious living, we subtly disconnect from our power and choice to fulfill that role in a pre-determined, on purpose kind of way.
For now, let’s think about reason number three in the context of your role as a manager or supervisor. I know this sounds odd, but before you became a manager you were a unique individual and when you’re finished being a manager, the same will hold true. So I have to ask the question where is the unique you in your role as a manager?

I ask that because I’ve seen many examples of people who seemingly become different people when they take on this responsibility. I seen some folks who were really fun as a co-worker lose all their fun at promotion day; a colleague who is known to be even keeled now turns into a slave driver. What happened?

You know, no matter what your specific job description is as a manager, the words on that paper do not replace or begin to reflect the YOU that you will bring to the role to execute what’s required. In the end, YOU are what will make that role come to life and create the outcomes that you and everyone else will experience.

That’s why is so important to believe that ultimately it all begins with you…the YOU that existed before you became a manager. What were you like, what kind of values did you hold, what was your personality like and ultimately what kind of character did you possess?

I believe that one of the first tasks every new manager or supervisor needs to tackle is that of self assessment. You can do this practically by asking yourself these questions:

1. Who am I as a person?
2. What kind of qualities will I bring to the table to be the best manager I can be?
3. What areas might there be some challenges for me? (e.g am I patient? I       intolerant…am I controlling, do I avoid conflict, do I get overwhelmed easily?)
4. What management skills do I need to learn?
5. What management skills do I naturally possess?
6. What values do I bring to the kind of manager I will want to be?

The answers to all those questions (and certainly there could be more) ends up being the summary of YOU. The you that will fulfill this role. Remember, NOTHING can replace the YOU. Judy Garland was once quoted as saying, “It’s better to be a first rate version of yourself, than a second rate version of someone else.”

As you fulfill your role as a manager, you will be delivering many messages. You’ll be saying, “yes, I can meet a deadline,” “yes, I can hire a competent employee,” “yes I can admit I was wrong,” “yes, I can motivate my team members.”

Ultimately and the most important point is that NOTHING can replace the YOU in those messages or outcomes. The way in which you fulfill that roles or deliver those messages, the qualities that you use to inspire, direct, teach, coach and let an underperformer go will be communicating a lot as well.

You will be communicating YOU. The essential question?...what will you be saying???
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