In my career I have met and talked with thousands of managers. I cannot recall one single instance where the manager didn’t want to do well. Sure, amongst the energy and enthusiasm there was some cynicism, some discouragement, even some dismay. But always at the heart of even discontented managers was a desire to be successful, and the negative stuff came from the impossible situations that their organizations had put them in.
Success is therefore very situational. It means different things to different people. And to the same person it may mean different things at different times.
Effective Managers™ comes at this from a systems approach. How can we in organization do things better? But it is humans who operate the systems, and we need to also think about what success means to us, and how we can use that personal success to then help our team members be successful.
We know what accountability is in terms of managers – check out my 5 Requirements blog. But what about our desire to be as successful as we can? Consider this five step recipe for personal success:
1. Know who you want to be
2. Be that person
3. Stay focused
4. Never waiver
5. Enjoy the journey
Know who you want to be
Any journey starts from where you are. So by definition, you need to know where you are before you can begin the journey. This means some self reflection, and it also requires a certain degree of determination. It is easy to fret for years, even decades, about something you would like to change. Quit smoking? Lose weight? Exercise more? Drink less alcohol? Be more productive? Whatever, the case, until you, yourself, can flick that inner switch to decide what you what to be, the change will not begin to happen. The conversation in your head changes from the negative (I can’t) to the positive (I will).
Be that person
Now the work starts. You have to be the person you want to be. This isn’t about pretending, this is about the new normal. People see through those who are faking pretty quickly. Like any journey it begins with the first step, and it continues one step at a time. With each step we remind ourselves of the goal.
A few years ago I found myself forty pounds overweight. How did that happen?! One day at a time. Sure I cared, but the diet could always start tomorrow, or after the weekend, or after the next holiday. Of course it never did, until I realized one day that I simply couldn’t continue as I was. I knew who I wanted to be, and what I was doing diet-wise wasn’t consistent with that. So I started being the new me, thankfully with a loving wife that shared the journey. Then, meal by meal, day by day we ate clean, we managed portion sizes, we exercised more. In the context of “this is the new normal”, 18 months later I was the person I wanted to be (at least weight-wise). It started with my conceiving and then being the person I wanted to be. This is a personal example, but the same approach applies professionally. As managers we won’t improve unless we start doing what we know we should be doing.
It is so easy to lose focus. Each day we are bombarded with competing information. Let’s say the new you wants to be better at delegating. That takes time – to prepare, meet with each team member, set context for each team member, and then meet with the team as a whole. You know the benefits are real and substantial. There will be literally hundreds of opportunities every day to do something that is consistent with the new you. Keep focused on your goal. This is vital.
Once you know who the new you is, you have to stay the course. My clients tell me over and over again that their organizations are good at starting changes but horrible at finishing them. The same is true for us personally – it is easy to start. It is not so easy keep at it. Don’t waiver from your goal… each step gets you that one step closer. If you don’t take that step to-day, the step you should have taken tomorrow will be that much harder.
Enjoy the journey
Finally – enjoy yourself. You are on the way to being the new you. My biggest self discovery in my weight loss journey was that not being full isn’t the same as being hungry. If better delegating is your goal, the rewards for your team members accomplishments will speak for themselves. If you slow down enough to congratulate yourself on each step to becoming the person you want to be, your chances at success will be greatly improved, and you can have some fun doing it!