Why does this happen? Most people start out open to change and taking on assignments that stretch their abilities, but over time they may become complacent, learning what they need to get ahead in their organization. Organizations too are to blame. They offer little support and focus on short-term results, not on developing management acumen. But the authors say the real problem is "a lack of understanding." People just don't have a clue about how to improve themselves as managers. Moreover, the authors say, the lessons "cannot be taught." Each person must learn her own lessons. It's all about "self development," the authors continue.
Basically there are three imperatives, the authors say, managers need to focus on: manage yourself, manage your network, and manage your team. Many people focus on the last one, but all three are important for success.
Manage yourself means that who you are (what you think, feel, believe and value) matters to the people you need to influence. Critical relationships-your direct reports-but be handled right. Having "productive influence," the authors explain, is not about being liked or instilling fear. It comes from people trusting you and believing in your competence and character.
Manage your network means you must be able to play office politics for the benefit of your team. Many people view "politics dysfunctional," the authors say, and don't realize it is inherent in all organizations. Having organizational influence helps a manager get what her group needs. Avoiding conflict doesn't work. You have to be able to create the right conditions for your team's success.
Manage your team means getting people to commit to a common purpose and goal. It's not enough to manage team members individually. You must also create a team and manage them collectively. Team members need to know what's required of them individually and collectively, they need to comprehend the values of the group, and how members are supposed to work together and communicate.
It is not enough to try to follow these three imperatives. You must also be ready to assess yourself daily. Sounds like a tall order? You bet. But if you are looking for one more way to make yourself indispensable to your organization, then becoming an outstanding manager is time well spent.
The authors have put together a twelve-question assessment to help you find out if you are doing all it takes to be an effective boss. Make it your New Year's resolution to at least find out how you are doing, then you can decide what steps you need to take to get even better.