It takes a while for obsolete ideas to die off. There’s one I’m surprised to see is still in circulation today. It’s a management philosophy that’s responsible for a lot of the dysfunctionality that exists in the business world today.
It goes like this:
1. “I’m a ( ____ )” (insert: control freak, tyrant, or type A personality).”
2. “I know this about myself, but I can’t change it because it’s who I am.”
3. “I surround myself with people who aren’t like me.”
It’s usually spun better than that, of course.
Instead of “tyrant”, it may be “strong-willed”. Instead of “people who aren’t like me,” they may say – “My managers balance me and keep me in line.”
How do you think managers feel about this? If you’ve been there yourself, you know that having to work around “the boss” and compensate for holes in their leadership is a huge drain on your day and the company culture in general.
Flawed Management Philosophies
The problem with this management philosophy is that is it asserts a lie as a conclusion – that real change is impossible.
Like all good justifications for not changing, this one has some truth in it. It’s true that you need to know your weaknesses in order to make sure they don’t drag the business down. You also need to surround yourself with people who have complementary strengths.
The question is, are you really doing these things to better the business or are you being the wrong kind of lazy? Are you trying to take yourself off the hook for having to look in the mirror?
Upgrade Your Management Style
You can choose to, of course, avoid this uncomfortable work. Most people do. There are plenty of financially successful people who never do real honest work on themselves as a leader.
But employees and customers are looking for leadership more now than ever before. They want to know that you’re looking at the business beyond a narrow focus on the bottom line. People don’t split work and life balance the way they used to. We realize that small business has always been personal; and we want it to be more personal, not less.
When you apply this idea to day-to-day business management, you’re starting a new conversation about management and self-management.
It goes like this:
1. “I’m not great at ( ____ )! (i.e. managing people, working with budgets, or delegating projects).”
2. “Even though I may never be great at that thing, I’m going to keep working at it if for no other reason than I want to inspire my employees by modeling transparency.”
3. “I don’t want my employees to have to carry me. I want self-responsible employees because those are the real innovators. I know they don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t take the responsibility that comes with leadership seriously.”
When you take this approach and really work at it, you’ll start to see that before now you weren’t actually managing anyone. They were managing you, or most likely, managing around you. You’ll start to see that everyone else was working overtime not to balance your weaknesses, but to compensate for them – which made them less available to do their real job.
Perhaps your ultimate goal should be to become your own manager. It might be the single most productive thing you’ll ever do.
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Jonathan Raymond is chief executive officer and chief brand officer of EMyth, the global leader in transformational business coaching. Jonathan is dedicated to evolving EMyth’s message and amplifying it through simple and beautiful applications, including the recent introduction of EMyth’s new cloud-based global coaching platform. He loves the challenge of pushing business owners to find deeper levels of ownership, pushing EMyth to deepen and modernize the tools it provide its global network of certified coaches, and the feeling when it all comes together to change one entrepreneur’s business and life.