Category Archives: qualities of manager

Boss Management

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Bad bosses happen. To tackle that, you should be looking for things to like about the boss.

If  he is not involved, that gives you latitude.

If he is a bit of a dunderhead, that makes you the smart one.

If he is driven, that means you are along for the ride.

Find things to like about the boss. Let him feel the love. Show some respect. Adopt a wee bit of humility.

Late in my career I had an office right across the hall from the boss. After every cup of coffee he barged in with a new, great idea. He was killing me. In my next job the boss was 200 miles away. I got a little lazy and sloppy from the lack of stimulation.

In the first instance I eventually realized that of the 20 or so officers that the boss supervised, I had the inside track. I was closest to him and, despite the constant distractions, I always had his ear and I always knew what was going on. I came to see it as an advantage.

In the second instance I eventually woke up and realized that distance gave me the freedom to be my own man and run things my way, without the constant interference. I just had to work order to keep the boss informed.

Rarely, if ever, should you say no upfront to boss. Even if it is a dumb idea and not your job. Just say yes, even when it hurts.

You can always say no later. After you have done some work, set up counter attack, and the boss is less emotionally invested in her great new idea.

If boss wants your opinion, she will ask for it. But when bosses are passing out taskings, they are looking for yes-men.  Give her-three bags full mam.

Follow the leader, not the led.

-By Mark Bender

 

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Likes & Dislikes in Bosses

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Top 5 dislikes

ENIGMATIC We hate it when we don’t understand the boss. We want to know where we stand and what the rules are. We hate it when leader is inconsistent, or plays head games.  (Yep, my boss Jim was like that.)

THREATENING We don’t like the sword of Damocles over our head. We don’t like to see co-workers in that position either. Scapegoating, the art of torturing a subordinate for the sins of all, is a big no-no. It’s entertaining to a point, but no one wants to be the next line for humiliation. We expect our leaders to be able to discipline their passions and keep control of their emotions.

HYPOCRITICAL If you are an evil person, please let us know. We will be able to tell soon enough if you are self-serving. But please don’t say one thing and do another. It’s very confusing and gives virtue a bad name.

PEDANTIC Attention to detail is one thing, but let us do our jobs. When you are down in the hold rearranging the baggage, it makes us very nervous about who is steering the ship.

WASTING OUR TIME We understand the need for meetings. Hey, you are the boss. But we have a job to do here.

Top 5 Likes

COURAGE We love it when you take risks. We will feed off your confidence, and make you a legend. But we also want to see that 3 o clock in the morning courage, the courage to keep fighting when the whole thing seems to be coming down around our ears. We love fighters.

OPENNESS Let’s communicate. We can tell whether you want the real answers to your questions, or you are just showing off. How much noise you can handle. Challenging the prevailing wisdom always is. Openness means  making yourself a temporary equal once in a while and listening for the information that only the lower ranks can give you. (I think  I do it at times)

DRIVE TO WIN Sure, we all have different levels of commitment but at heart we all want to be winners. Set clear goals for us. We will block, carry the ball, or whatever but we want to know what the goal is. We want to see you committed to victory, however you define it.

FAIRNESS We know life is tough. Not everybody is going to make it. But we want to feel like we all have an equal chance to succeed. Mentorship is one thing, cronyism is another. Just be fair.

TRUST At the end of the day, we want your trust. If you give us the benefit of doubt, we will live up to your highest expectations. The greatest gift you can give us is your trust. If you can’t give it at least let us earn it.

(By Mark Bender)

Management styles

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For last one week I have been closely working with a person on finalization of our company’s annual report. Now this person has verbal diarrhoea and can’t stay mum for long. But he does talk sense most of the time, though his own names invariably crops up in each incident he describes. So coming to the point he discussed a lot about our seniors and our CEOs.

First he shared his views about my ex-boss, let us name him Shawn for this blog. So he commented how Shawn had mostly done liaisoning work all his life and knows only sucking up and buttering up. With people like him in CEO coterie, you can understand the value of these people and the working style of CEO. He guessed how Shawn would behave in tricky situations, and to my utter surprize, he was right. Actually I have a love-hate relationship with Shawn. He did a lot for making my work count and getting me visibility and expsoure, he even ensured I get a coveted award, but he did a lot of bad things with me also. He asked me to draft a charge-sheet that was intended to be issued to me (it did not happen luckily), he blamed me for things I did not do, he expects me to do his errands even now, he expects me to risk my relations with present boss, let us name her Hale. Now even I start doubting Shawn’s intentions of helping me, I at times think SHawn must be having some hidden selfish motive in doing that for me.

Okay, now to Hale, this guy described Hale also pretty well. He said- SHe might have taken 30 days to judge each of the team member and her future action would have been guided by that. If she feels you can be relied upon, you talk sense, then she will value your opinion. Because she has risen through the ranks, has done hard-core marketing, she understands constraints and timelines. She won’t expect you to do unreasonable. And this guy was right about her.

Then he shared his experience with another CEO. This CEO always asked these guys to do what they felt right. So in a case, when the controlling Ministry expected this guy to commit to an unrealistic deadline, this guy politely declined. The CEO had instructed them to always be polite and dignified in conveying their problems. The issue was escalated to CEO level, but CEO backed him up and the job was done in real-time. Basically this guy wanted to prove how back-up from top motivates you to do more.

While talking about another CEO, he said- Once I had gone with a file to him. CEO wanted to check if a particular point discussed with my senior had been included. Then he talked over phone to my senior, who assured it has been included. So CEO signed. Our guy, to impress CEO, tried to find the para, but could not. CEO said-no worries, I have signed. Our guy came out, found the para and went inside again. Now the CEO told him- There was no need of this. When your boss has assured it has been included, I believe him. I am not supposed to get into these things. And I trust you people, you won’t cheat me. In future, keep this in mind. Then onwards our guy always checked notes 2-3 times before getting sign, knowing that CEO relied on him.

For annual report, we also had to work with two other guys from a third department, This guy explained how these two guys had a tuning between them as team members. They covered each other’s faults and never fought with each other, to impress boss. He related one incident also as to how the mistake was hushed up and rectified at junior level, without going to CFO level. I nodded to him, but thought to myself that this was at the cost of organisation. Their camaraderie was for their selfish motives, not for company’s interest. But I kept mum. 

These two guys also shared their view on management style. They had a bitter experience with a third CEO. Actually I was trying to understand the concept of hedging from them. This reminded them of a past incident. A group of them was monitoring the currency fluctuations over a period of time, and recommended a particular time when the deal should be frozen to benefit from favourable exchange rate. Luckily their prediction was right. They were happy and thinking that management will appreciate their work, What happened instead was that the CEO called for all such dealings in last two months and asked them why these deals were not done in this manner. Such is the management in our company.

Okay, back to the first talkative guy. He was discussing about a past CEO, and I told him how CEO’s anger and tantrums were good for company as most people in public sector responded to fear. But this guy gave a logical argument, and I had to agree. He said the CEO behaved this way with everyone, it would have been better if he could assess who asked for the lecture and who did not. Besides, after some time everybody got used to his anger and ignored it or laughed at it. This percolated down to all levels and resulted in demotivation at all levels.

Then we also discussed how TAs and others reach at director level and start having unrealistic expectations and talk nonsense. 

He talked a lot more, but rest some other day.

Persistence

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THERE IS NO AGE FOR SUCCESS : Colonel Sanders Success Story
Article By: Success Story Daily – Published on: Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The success story of Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken is not a very famous one, however it displays a level of persistence that few can match.

Born in 1890, in Henryville, Indiana, his father passed away when he was just five and his mother worked in a tomato-canning factory. In 1902, Sanders dropped out of school, his mother got married to a second husband and he was beaten by his stepfather, this was when Sanders left home to live with his uncle in Albany, Indiana.

At the age of 15, Colonel Sanders enlisted in the army, he completed service as a mule handler in Cuba and then, used his remaining early years to work a variety of jobs including an insurance salesman, boat pilot and farmer.

When he was 18, he got married but his wife later left him as a “no-good fellow who can’t hold a job”.

Colonel Sanders’ chicken story begun in 1930, aged 40, he opened a service station in Kentucky where he served chicken, country ham and steak dishes, however he served people in his living quarters as he didn’t have a restaurant. As he became more popular, he moved into a 142 seat restaurant.

Within the next nine years, this is where the famous recipe was being developed, he discovered that cooking chicken in a pressure fryer was much faster than pan frying.

Around 1950, Colonel Sanders began making a name for himself with the distinctive goatee, mustache, white suit and string tie, he wore nothing different in the last 20 years of his life. At aged 65, his restaurant failed as the interstate reduced his passing trade, he took his first Social Security payment of $105 and began visiting potential franchisees. This is when Colonel Sanders displayed his level of persistence, where he went to, and was rejected by 1008 restaurants until restaurant number 1009 accepted his franchise in 1952.

In the first year of selling the product, restaurant sales more than trebled with 75% coming from fried chicken, it was the ultimate differentiation tool. The franchise operation expanded hugely and the corporation eventually sold for $2 million and Sanders, now aged 74 launched various charitable organizations to be able to give back.

So how many of us can take 1008 ‘no’s’ and still keep going?

Source – Internet

Over-initiative by Daniel Goleman

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Take the VP of Marketing at a large consumer products company, who discovered that one of his sales reps was unable to close a sale with a  large national account. The VP had made many presentations to that same account in the past, and so on his own initiative he called and set up a meeting there. Then he phoned the sales rep with instructions to meet him at the account’s office the next day.

One result of VP’s initiative was that they made the sale. Another, unintended result was that the sales rep was deeply humiliated.

Feeling he had been made to look foolish and incompetent in front of his client, the rep protested, and his two bosses-the regional and the national sales managers-fired off irate memos to the VP, claiming he had stepped out of bounds in going over their heads and humiliating their staffer.

But the warning had no effect. The same pattern continued for two years, with the VP acting high-handedly with other sales reps, until the president of the company, worried about a slump in sales, blamed it on VP’s demoralization of the sales force. The net result -President gave VP a choice- leave the company  or step down to take a regional sales job.

Mentoring by Daniel Goleman

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It was a small lesson, but one with lasting impact. As a high-profile, fast-track editor at a national magazine, she had a problem- I was prone to snap decisions, committing to projects in a moment of enthusiasm, then having to suffer through a torturous series of rewrites with authors that ended in their articles being killed. It was emotionally draining for me, and it created too much animosity and just plain pain.

But then she told me, my editor in chief taught me a phrase that has helped immensely.

What was that phrase?

“I will think about it.”

That simple bit of advice exemplifies coaching, which lies at the heart of developing others. Excellence in this competence is emerging as second only to team leadership among superior managers. For sales managers, developing others is even more important- the competence most frequently found among those at the top of the field.

This is a person-to-person art, the heart of coaching and developing is the act of counselling. And the effectiveness of counseling hinges on empathy and the ability to focus on our own feelings and share them.

Experience

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As is said, experience comes from failure, and failure comes from experience.

But there is no denying that experience is valuable. One learns a lot with time.

But the extent of learning depends upon the frame of mind. If one observes things and people keenly with a positive frame of mind, learning is better. However if one considers every job as a burden, and is always in rush to finish the job at hand in a negative frame of mind, the learning will definitely be limited.

Then there is a level of general knowledge and subject knowledge, which determines how much and what one can learn. All other factors being same, two individuals with different knowledge levels will have different kind of experiential learning.

As I have mentioned in one of my earlier post about Daniel Goleman and emotional intelligence, intuition is nothing but expertise coupled with presence of mind. So experience can take many shapes and forms.

There can be honing of people skills or emotional intelligence. This will happen with those who take more interest in people either because the job demands or their inclination. For example, people in HR or Sales for that matter need to gain experience of this kind, else they will not attain heights of success.

Domain expertise is another kind of experience that comes with time. For example, in Finance, PR and other niche areas, after a few years, it’s all been there, done that kind of scenario. Such experience enables people to visualise possible scenarios in every situation. They will know what can go wrong in a particular situation. Of course they can not predict the future, but they can minimise the risk factors using their experience.

And if I may say so, experience can make people optimists/positive or pessimists/negative, depending upon their outlook. After going through a crisis, one person can decide to celebrate the success and look forward to newer challenges, whereas another person can curse his luck for being trapped in such a crisis and attribute success to luck. Latter kind of person will try to avoid facing such crisis situations in future.

I have seen experience making people sweeter or bitter, clearly an outcome of their filters and goggles. A simple analogy can explain this. Say, a heavy drinker has two sons.  It may so happen that one of them follows the footsteps of his father and becomes a heavy drinker like him. Another hates his father’s addiction having seen his pitiable condition, and pledges to never drink in his life. In this case, all conditions were same, but one son emulated and the other son did just the reverse, depending upon how they perceived their father’s actions.

I have friends and family members who are so rigid that you would never find them accepting their mistake. They think they are always right, and even if they realise they might be wrong, they behave as smart asses and try to fool others.  Such people will have very limited learning from any life experiences, because their minds are closed to experiential learning. On the other hand, there are people who keep on reading, discussing, observing and are always in learning mode. Such people learn a lot from all kinds of experiences.

Even in my team, I have seen a range of learners. When I pointed out mistake of one person, she did not take it positively. She even bitched about it to other colleagues, which I came to know. From then on I have stopped sharing whatever I know at least, and it is entirely her loss. So by her adamant behaviour she is losing out on experience that I could have shared with her. On the other hand, another colleague was more than receptive when I pointed out few errors. She pointedly asked me to let her know in future also, if some improvements are possible. So clearly she will gain more experience from me, at least to the extent of my limited knowledge.

Another factor that helps of hinders the learning experience is sincerity of the person at work. 1-2 of my team members take ages to complete a job, are not meticulous and are careless. So anytime I have a choice, I avoid giving them new assignments, because I can delegate the work, but responsibility and accountability is mine. So I would rather get the job done by a sincere, careful and methodical person. So careless person, even if he has inclination to learn and improve, will lose out on experience gathering.

That was my experience speaking, what is yours?

 

Relator by Marcus B. et al

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Another of the strengths one individual can have.

 

Relator decribes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people-in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends- but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams, and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk-you might be taken advantage of- but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real relationship, and you take them willingly.

Women bosses

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There was an article in newspaper on how women bosses are perceived differently and how they are far better than they are credited for. That made me think of two women bosses I have had.

One was a terror so to say. She used to shout at the slightest provocation, and that too on small things. All floors in our head office were aware of her loud voice. I caught her backbiting and backstabbing too, even on me at times. She was all good goody to your face but screwed you in your appraisal and rated those persons better who sucked up to her, or did her personal errands. She was more interested in her personal interests, rather than company’s interests. She played politics to ensure that a junior of mine, who was working with her for last 15 years (I came to head office much later) always got better of me. Additional telephone, better seating, better rating, better visibility and better job assignments. Though in front of me, she always criticised him, her bias was very clear. So women bosses also have as many bad qualities as men bosses have, so I don’t get this discrimination thing really. She did have positive side also. She was assertive, protective, woman of her words, caring at times, forthright in negative feedback in her trademark style of course, well-connected, good command over language, resilient, fast and go-getter.

Then there was this another boss who had this image of a tigress, but was very good at heart. She was too cold and calculating though with no personal interest in you whatsoever, self-centred (as most of the bosses are, I don’t know why I have a problem with that always), self-confident bordering on arrogance. For example once I sent her an sms regarding some event she had asked for the day before. Her reply comes- Yes, I know. Well I did not expect a bouquet or commendation but a plain thank-you or even no response would have sufficed. She threw water on my FYI act by snubbing me this way, and this she did a lot. Though I might have also irritated her at times unknowingly. For example, once she appeared for an interview of Board member, I sent her wishes and all, but when she did not get selected, I avoided raising the topic with her, thinking that it might hurt her more. And two days later, in a discussion with juniors in front of her, I said that she might become a board member some day and you will suffer if she goes out. A positive comment delivered at the wrong time. I repented the moment i said it, but the damage was done already. Aniways she adopts the need-to-know principle to perfection which at times is demotivating as you feel out of the loop. She will expect the unexpected from you at times like doing a 30-minute job in 5 minutes. She keeps her calm in big crisis situations but smaller issues ruffle her up and she loses her calm.

But then again compared to other bosses, she respects her time so she respects yours too,, she is polite when she speaks, she is reasonable and understanding if you exclude the time-problem, she shares her experience, she trusts you, she keeps her calm and is well-mannered.

So, that is how I saw my women bosses. Will write on women juniors some other time.

Leading people

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Today I was reading a blog on how we should lead with compassion and not authority. Our goal should be development of our team/subordinates.It led me thinking how peculiar work environment in public sector enterpirse (PSE), the type of organisation where I work, is better suited for this kind of leadership.

As we say, there are 1-2 typical things about a PSE.

-Horses and donkeys, meaning smart-workers and shirkers get equal treatment. Smart workers don’t get any special facilities, nor do shirkers get any punishment.

-Pays and perks are exactly the same, irrespective of the amount of work you put in.

-Promotions are time-bound. What matters more at senior levels is your connections etc. So a mediocre executive with networking skills has as good chances of promotion as an excellent executive.

-Transfers are also for those not well connected.

Now if you consider these and other factors, I don’t have much to motivate me. And it’s any fool’s guess that the same applies to my juniors.

So what do we do, keep working like machines without any aspirations, hopes, expectations, just rewards and all that.

NO, that is where the first line of this post comes. These conditions or obstacles which seem hampering growth, can be converted to opportunities.

If I don’t play politics knowing well that it hardly matters either way. If I don’t go running around grabbing credit for junior”s work  knowing that it matters not. If I don’t suck up to seniors instead I work sincerely for mental peace. If I am not egoistic, don’t throw my weight around, literally and otherwise, don’t treat juniors as machines and  tools, then I may already have made a good start.

Let me put it in other words. By doing all this, I will be motivating myself by getting the real happiness of developing and mentoring  my juniors, and my juniors will be hopefully happy to have a really caring and different boss.

Had I been in a private firm with cut-throat competition, backbiting, backstabbing, ratrace and all that, you can’t be a genuine caring and sincere boss. Unless ofcourse in C-suite.

I am saying this and will try to practice it now that I know its true worth. But irony is today only unwittingly I did the reverse. Actually ever since my appraisal rating has been downgraded, I have been a little bit edgy or maybe confused. Today happy was showing final proof of inhouse magazine to boss, and without being sure of it (though I had an inkling that she might be in doing that, and I hesitated also for a second, before entering boss’ room. Had it been pre-downgrading I would have not gone in even if I had 10 % inkling, as I would have wanted her to take credit for the job we did together). But I went in. Moreover while boss was perusing the magazine, I butted in at places. She did not seem to mind overtly at least. But I felt bad at my un-me behaviour. So, note to myself to avoid this in future.

Let me see if I can maintain this.