Doctor Diet, Part II

Written by Joe Driscoll

November 17, 2009

Have you stayed with your diet this week? If it’s a good program, it is leading you to adopt the changes needed for a healthier life style. You know, a balanced diet and regular, moderate exercise; the common sense stuff you knew you were going to have to do all along.

How about your management program? Has your Search for Excellence uncovered What You Didn’t Learn at the Harvard Business School long enough so that you could be a One Minute Manager while Swimming with the Sharks?

Whatever current management fad has caught your attention, your benefit will be to the extent that it moves you in the direction that common sense was steering you already. You knew what you needed to do, you just needed a little support and encouragement to do it.

Last week we published the first half of our list of ten common sense management principles. #1 Choose the right things to do.  #2 The only person you’re capable of motivating is yourself. #3 Everybody is in business for themselves.  #4 The future is now.  #5 The law of comparative advantage.

Here’s the second half of the list.

6. You have to listen to learn. Communications is the basic skill common to all aspects of managing. It’s a two way process. Every communication involves a transmission and a reception.

The receiving end of communication depends on a skill called listening. Listening is different than hearing. Unlike hearing, listening requires a conscious effort. Developing listening skills presents the best opportunity to improve performance.

Before you can be a good listener, you must get somebody to talk to you. That’s not always as easy as it seems. If you are seen as being “unsafe” to communicate with candidly, you have effectively cut yourself of from your best sources of information.

7. Given a reasonable equality of circumstances, leadership is the single most important factor in determining the success of an organization. There are two disturbing trends concerning leadership. First, many pseudo leaders are getting away with attributing their failed performance on the short comings of their followers or circumstances “beyond their control”. Real leaders take responsibility and deliver results.

Secondly, the increased emphasis on “team building” in organizations is accompanied by a deemphasis on leadership. Even the best of teams need strong leaders. Relying on “teams” to fill the voids created by pseudo leaders creates an illusion that holds no promise.

General “Black Jack” Pershing said it best, “A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops: while on the contrary, an incapable leader can demoralize the best troops”.

8. Good players make good managers. If you want to be an effective manager and build a successful organization, you better choose a good team.

Most all managers understand the value of good employees and have experienced the frustrations that accompany poor ones. Given this awareness, it’s puzzling that the hiring process is often rushed and slighted. There are no more important decisions than who you hire.

9. Success and succession are pieces of the same puzzle. As soon as you begin to achieve some measure of success, you have to be concerned with managing it. How do you enjoy it, how do you maintain it, how do you perpetuate it?

Businesses that are built by the force of strong entrepreneurial leadership will eventually need to develop strong management foundations in order to reach their potential and to deliver their promise.

10. If you’re going to ask directions, better speak to somebody who has been where you want to go. Would the right kind of outside advise help? The obvious answer is yes. Regardless how smart we are, we all have limitations.

Where can you the help you need? There is no shortage of potential sources of advise. However, too many advisors have learned by observing, not by doing. The soundest advise comes from people who have been where you want to go. That may be from business owners in related fields, customers, or suppliers. All valuable sounding boards for your problems and plans.

There’s ten pieces of common sense management that will enhance the benefits of whatever management fad has your current fancy. What makes common sense so valuable is that it’s not all that common but, when used, it makes a heck of a lot of sense.

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