Name the person who is most responsible for helping you achieve business success. Most people have someone they can cite as their mentor -- a wise, older colleague who guided them, encouraged them and taught them the rules of the business they are in. This relationship may have been a formal one, but most likely it was informal and happened because the more seasoned person took a liking to the younger one and wanted to help them develop their skills.
The recent arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates by Sgt. James Crowley at his home led to heated discussions about racial profiling and an outpouring of support for one or the other depending on your point of view. The situation was further inflamed when President Barack Obama said the police “acted stupidly” by arresting Gates. After apologizing for his choice of words, President Obama invited both men to the White House to have a beer and conversation today.
There's something about quick fixes that really bothers me. If you look at the titles of many self-help books, they offer solutions in record time. For instance, there's a whole series of books and tapes built around "The One Minute Manager." Then there are the offshoots of that brand: "The One Minute Sales Person," "The One Minute Entrepreneur," "The One Minute Apology," "The One Minute Golfer," and even "The One Minute Mother." Clearly, the concept has legs and sells books, but can useful advice be boiled down that easily?
At a recent meeting I attended of women IT professionals, one woman noted that when she was promoted, the only management guidance she was offered was a three-hour course on "The One Minute Manager." Somehow that just doesn't seem like enough support.
As people move up the corporate ladder the skills that got them noticed in the first place are not sufficient to help them succeed at higher levels. Being a good manager is not the same as being a good leader. Some people are born leaders, but many others need training to get there. And for individuals that aspire to the C-suite, there are a host of capabilities they need that have to be developed, such as growing and developing talent, setting direction and thinking strategically.
Managers need to call upon all their resources in this tumultuous economy to crank up performance and keep employee anxiety at bay. So it was interesting to note that one study found that workers are actually more productive if they are allowed to use the Internet for leisure browsing. The study from the University of Melbourne noted that surfing the net at work “actually increases our concentration levels and helps make a more productive workforce.”