Indigenous cultures use a circle as an image for life. Circles are continuous, with no beginning or end. What does your career or organization look like, when you view it as a circle?
Think of the differences between a circle and a line. Circles allow flow. One action leads to another. You cannot separate one event from another. Everything is connected. The center of a circle is surrounded by the elements of the circle. The center of a line is one point.
Why write about this in The Managers Hub? A change in the perspective with which you view your career or organization can lead to insights, innovation and positive change. If you use a circle as your reference point, what looks different in your career or organization?
There is something to be said for maintaining momentum. Momentum is about movement towards something. You know what your goals are for your life and managing. To reach them requires focused attention.
Pick a significant goal you have for you or your team. How much momentum exists around it? Are you going at the pace you want? Are you satisfied with your progress? How do you create momentum? Some ways I have found useful in creating momentum include: scheduling periodic check-ins to assess progress and course-correct, if I need to; scheduling specific times to work on something; identifying when I have to schedule more time and “push” to get something done; eliminating distractions; and keeping my focus on priorities
How do you keep yourself organized? Everyone finds their own way. Our ways are on a continuum between order and chaos. What matters is to find the way that works best for you. Are you more productive in an ordered or chaotic state?
Some find that chaos stimulates their creativity. Others find that order allows them to keep their center. There are downsides of both order and chaos. They can each be used to avoid action and keep you unproductive. For example, a near constant state of chaos can keep you from getting anything meaningful done. Too much focus on order can keep you from getting into action. What are the downsides of each for you?
If you think of nature as a system, both chaos and order exist within it, each serving a purpose. Order keeps an ecosystem together. Chaos introduces change and growth. How does your ecosystem work best for staying organized? What’s your best balance between chaos and order?
True or false: definition of manage: to be in charge of. It is a simple definition that may ignore the complexities of managing within an organization. As a manager, do you believe you are in charge to the degree you need to be? In my early experiences as a manager, I frequently would hear other managers express their frustration that they had responsibility without authority or power.
What is the ratio of your responsibility to your authority and power? You know the impacts – responsibility without authority or power is defeating. A balanced ratio gives you a chance. There are other factors that can influence this ratio – co-workers whose agendas secretly sabotage your authority or power; lack of resources that are necessary to fulfill your responsibilities; team members that do not accept responsibility or do not accept your authority or power; a dysfunctional organization that muddles responsibility, authority and power.
Managing without an awareness of the balance between your responsibility and your authority and power, leaves you at a disadvantage. Paying attention to this, gives you a foundation for your managing strategy and increases your chances of succeeding.
All managers have value. The trick is to find the place that values your strengths and talents where you can thrive. What are signs that your value is recognized in your organization? Here are some: you are treated with respect by upper management, you are listened to, to the best extent possible your needs and those of your team are met, you are communicated with and have the information you need to manage well. On your end, you feel you are on your game, you see that you are a “fit” with your organization, you are doing what you want to be doing as a manager.
You each have your own unique gifts. Sometimes, those gifts are not realized because you are not in an environment that values them. The so-called hero’s journey is about finding your unique gifts and bringing them to the world. There are many factors involved. You may be a good fit for your organization’s mission, but cultural dysfunction, lack of resources or some other factor negatively influences your performance. You may not be a good fit for your organization. Your path may have formed by accident-you just went with what happened, without a focus on the best fit for you.
What has been is not relevant now. What is relevant is to take charge of your career and actively pursue a fit that will allow your unique gifts to shine. In my next post, I will give you some questions that can be helpful in assessing if you are valued as a manager and are bringing your unique gifts to the world.
Seth Godin posits in his book Tribes that managers are not leaders. He says managers manage by using the authority the factory has given them; that leaders don’t care much about organization and authority, they use passion and ideas to lead people. Later, Godin provides an example of a researcher at the Pentagon who acted as a leader and changed the way generals think about the military. If this can be done at the bottom, it can be done in the middle.
Managers must lead. They cannot let the organization constrain them. They must know the environment they manage in and figure out how they can make change effectively. It takes a lot to know the game and not get wedged in by it. Managers must transcend their organization and lead creatively.
If you are a manager caught in the chaos of an organization, step back.
Think strategically about how the change you want can happen. Consider the hinges that keep the organization together and which ones can be moved. Who are the movers in your organization? How do they make change? What is the language of change in your organization — profit? savings? bottom line? competitive edge? How does the change you want to see get communicated in that language? What is within your control and what is not? Do you have allies? Can you create a tribe to lead the change? Is there a tribe working against you?
Know your boundaries. Is the change you seek essential to your work? Will harm be done if it is not made? Can you live without it? How far are you willing to go in seeking it?
Act. Without leading, you atrophy. Leading requires agile, savvy steps. Keep your focus on people and results. Change the organization you are managing in by leading.