It amazes me that corporate America still hasn’t learned not to manage people. That’s just one practice blocking the path to effective leadership.
Why are so many managers afraid to hire people who are smarter than they are? I suppose it’s human nature to be afraid of the comparison, and fearful of being seen as less astute, less creative, less experienced and less … managerial.
In reality, shouldn’t your job be to hire people smarter than you are? Isn’t it easier to supervise people who don’t need a lot of managing?
Think of it this way: If the owner of the company hires managers less smart than he or she is, and each of those managers does the same, pretty soon you have a pretty “dumb” company. I call it “dumbing down” the organization.
Does your organization have a culture of “defer-up” when decisions are to be made? If you are making way too many decisions in your organization, even having the last word on smaller decisions that mid-level managers and employees themselves could be making, something’s wrong with the culture in your workplace.
A “defer-up” culture absolves people of making decisions ? and keeps them from getting results. The people that will be dealing with the issue should absolutely have the most say in solving the matter.
Build your dream team
A more evolved idea is to hire the smartest people you can find. In fact, build your dream team ? with the folks that have the strengths you may lack, and have each manager do that down the line.
So if you or anyone in management gets hit by a bus, the organization will be just fine.
Verne Harnish, an author I enjoy, said it best. “A business is simply people doing activities. You lead people and manage their activities. You don’t manage people.”
Most bosses don’t really get this simple rationale behind effective leadership.
As I said earlier, it astounds me that corporate America still hasn’t learned not to manage people. One manages his or her environment, manages equipment maintenance, or manages a budget, but one cannot effectively or realistically manage people.
Why don’t bosses get it?
Maybe it’s because we label so many positions as “managers.” These “managers” frequently resort to bossing, pushing or the worst offense, managing by intimidation.
People don’t like to be managed. Just as teenagers bristled under parental management, as adults, they hate it more.
Instead of thinking of managing people, consider improving equipment, processes, work environment, benefits, human resource programs, etc. Then hire great people. The rest will take care of itself.
Herb Kelleher, the famous CEO of Southwest Airlines once said, “I’d rather have a company bound by love than by fear.” He’s absolutely right.
And then mentor …
There’s nothing like being a mentor or a coach to your employees. I think it’s the icing on the leadership cake.
When you help an employee achieve a goal or coach them to be better, you are giving far more than your time or experience. You are paying your time and experience forward and establishing trust and personal connection. I have found employees appreciate this above almost everything and anything else you can do as a manager.
For example, an employee came to me a couple of years ago, embarrassed that she had never had a checking account. She was a single mother with three kids. Impressed with her frankness and desire to learn, I took her to the nearest bank where she opened a checking account. While we were there, we also talked about establishing credit, and she decided to take the additional step of applying for a credit card.
I’m excited to say in the last few years she bought her first car and then her first home. I can’t tell you how rewarding this process was to watch unfold and knowing you played a small part in it.
Mentoring can most certainly extend to helping someone achieve their career goals, even if that means they end up leaving your organization.
David Harding is president and CEO of HardingPoorman Group, a locally owned and operated graphic communications firm in Indianapolis consisting of several integrated companies all under one roof. The company has been voted as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Indiana by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Harding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.hardingpoorman.com.