I’ve written before about front line and middle managers being the VIPs in organisations. They are the people who make things happen – or, unfortunately, stop things from happening. They can make or break an organisation. That’s why it is important for organisations to invest in them, so they become an empowered leadership and management force in the organisation.
If you are a front line or middle manager, however, it is also vitally important that you invest in yourself. You can do this in a variety of ways.
1. You can invest time, energy and money in your own professional development.
- Prioritise some time to keeping up with your industry or professional sector trends, either by reading your journals or magazines, listening to podcasts or watching videos, or attending industry or professional sector events or conferences.
- Prioritise some of your own money to develop the skills and expertise that will take you where you want to go. It constantly surprises me when I ask in my workshops how many people in my audience have spent any money of their own on their professional development in the past 6 months. It is rare to find that anyone has. In fact people are surprised at the question. Most assume that it is their organisation’s responsibility to train them and enhance their professional development.
- Be prepared to expend energy to remain at the leading edge of your industry or professional sector by rising early to go to a business breakfast, or going to a networking event after work when you may feel spent after a long day, or travel some distance to attend an event that will develop your skills and expertise.
2. There is something else you can do – micromanage yourself.
Before you interrupt, let me finish. I know “micromanagement” is the dirty word in leadership and management and is always seen as a no go zone for the leader and manager who wants to be excellent. But I recently read an article by Alan Hargreaves, a business and management consultant, on “So You Want To Be An Excellent Manager?” One of Alan’s 5 keys to excellence in management was to micromanage yourself.
I, probably like you, was surprised but when I read what he had to say, I realised I agreed. I also realised that this is what I’m telling managers and aspiring managers all the time in my workshops, even though I never used the word “micromanage” to describe my message.
As a leader or manager you want your employees to be efficient, productive and high performing. You want them to become better and better at what they do. As you develop as a leader or manager and over a period of time, you realise that the best way to achieve that is by motivating and inspiring them and helping them develop the autonomy, mastery and purpose that Dan Pink talk about that leads to them becoming intrinsically motivated.
When you are starting off, however, you can often think that the way to get that efficiency, productivity and high performance is by setting strict goals and objectives and micro-monitoring every employee to ensure that they understand what they have to do and that they are doing it. You see it as a positive. Your employees see it as a very big negative that is very dis-empowering.
What Hardman is about here, and what I am also committed to, is about micro-managing yourself to empowered leadership and management. When you set goals and objectives for yourself that set you on the road to excellence, then strictly monitor yourself to make sure you stay committed to them, exercising self-discipline, focus and on-going reflection and self-evaluation, you are actually engaging in micro-management of your own performance.
So many of you are so focused on doing leadership and management that you spend little time working on, even trying to understand, what the BEING part of leadership and management is. This is the self-leadership part, the part that says, you have to be able to lead yourself before you can lead others. To develop the self-mastery that is inherent in self-leadership, all of us, me included, have to micro-manage ourselves from how and when we get up in the morning and start our day, to the way we work and relate throughout the day and to the way we finish our day.
So in this case, micro-management is a good thing. As all of us bring together into congruence the DOING and BEING of leadership and management, the need to micro-manage our professional and leadership development will fade away. We will be efficient, productive and high performing automatically and naturally at being the empowered leader.
If you want to follow up more on this, email me, or get me to come and conduct a workshop for your leaders and managers, or do some mentoring/coaching with me.