Chinese proverb that is, what else?
I wish we could be as crystal clear when it comes to the characteristics required to be a good manager, or a top leader. But we don’t have this criteria. Well, we do, of course, in the form of lists and pieces of ‘research’.
Google’s famous 8 characteristics for a good manager comes in the form of ’behaviours’ (the quote/unquote is needed because mad behavioural-ists like myself would object that these are not real behaviours):
- Be a good coach
- Empower your team and don’t micromanage
- Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
- Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented
- Be a good communicator and listen to your team
- Help your employees with career development
- Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
- Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team
It sounds to me, like a plan to ensure you have really, really, good… guys around you. Sorry, managers.
Seriously. If you want lists, I can give you lists. And books. And pieces of research (so you can start the line with ‘research says’). They are all there. But leaders in organizations, with or without external help, need to make up their minds about what is needed here today and here tomorrow. Two different things by the way.
If you tell me that what you need is good communication skills, teamwork, accountability, people who go the extra mile, open people, and people who listen, I would say, great, these are characteristics without which you must not open the shop. That’s your smiling face package.
Now tell me how this is going to work, when the shop is open, when you have gathered all your people with smiling faces.
You must park that list, next flip chart, and start serious discussion about the kind of people who will open the shop again and again, and the new shop 3 years from now.
One single pointer as an example: control. Start with control. Who should control what and why. Lots of control? Not much? What is the control atmosphere index in your organization? If it is high and you want to lower it, for example, then what kind of people do you need, and what kind of non negotiable behaviours? Because the 8 Google-ite characteristics above could in theory work well in different levels of control. So, you want all the smiling faces now to start smiling on their own? Without Smiling Manager? For example.
OK, we are opening a little Pandora box here.