Don’t take your management skill for granted

If you’re a fan of Rich TIPS, you know that we love to write about, think about, and teach leadership. If you’re a nonprofit sector veteran, you also know that many roles in our world require a thoughtful balance of strong leadership and capable management. Most of us excel more in one discipline than the other, and it’s human to be more comfortable in a default mode.

Have you, as your career progresses, assumed that management is somehow the “lesser” skill set? Could you be neglecting your performance in that area because leadership roles are more exciting, more externally impressive, and more limelight-worthy?

Take a moment to reflect on your performance as a manager. Remember the old 80-20 rule as it applies to the leadership/management balance: you are no doubt very strong in one mode and could happily spend all your time there, so it’s the 20% of your job that is less comfortable and more challenging for you that is really what your organization is paying you to deliver.

Remember, not all leaders make good managers and not all managers can lead. Here’s a refresher on key principles that will help you become the kind of manager people will love working for.

  1. Know your business well. It‘s key to be able to thoroughly understand everything about your organization from your product to your staff. You must also be able to talk intelligently about your financials and cash-flow.
  2. Clearly define your personal expectations and responsibilities and make sure your employees understand the rewards and consequences.
  3. Hire the best and fire the worst. Hire the best people possible and then reward them. If you have under-performing employees, find a way to manage them out of the organization–this sounds harsh but negative employees will drag the whole organization down with them.
  4. Be visible, approachable and available to your employees. Staff must know they can approach you and that you will listen to their needs. Don’t surround yourself with “gatekeepers.”
  5. Be a teacher and a student until you die. Try to read the latest best practices in your field, attend workshops and conferences, and stay up-to-date on changes in your profession.
  6. Assume 100 percent responsibility for your actions and hold others accountable for their actions. This is central to developing an accountability system in your organization. Anytime something happens that doesn’t work out well, always looks inside yourself first for the answers.
  7. Allow for mistakes, and even failure. It’s important to develop a climate where taking a risk is accepted. Sometimes this means failing, but failure is an excellent teacher.
  8. Work “smart” hours, not just long hours. It’s not the number of hours that you put in but the way you work that will determine your productivity and success. Use all the tools at your disposal.
  9. Always be honest. This is critical to building credibility with your staff and board. Always tell the truth.
  10. Attitude is infectious. You are the role model and being positive and optimistic is critical to the success of the organization.




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