Leading Edge: Leaders who have competent and confident teams of managers around them are extremely fortunate. These managers are engaged and can articulate how decisions made at higher levels will affect their personnel, processes and productivity. These individuals are integral as they feed valuable, data sourced information up through the ranks, supporting the decision-making process and keeping the organization on track with the goals and objectives in place to support the overall vision or mission.
But what do these valuable individuals need to stay sharp and engaged? What’s their “secret weapon“? I’d like to suggest that for managers to stay ahead of the fray (most of the time) and to consistently add value to their leadership teams, they must have access to the following:
- Time to develop and train their support personnel
- Time to evaluate team leads and/or team members, processes and progress
- Time to manage relationships and gather insight from front-line perspectives
- Time to analyze reliable data for financial, operational and personnel improvement and increased efficiency
- Time to formulate opinions and ideas for team and organizational growth
- Time to create and formalize proposals for strategic planning, development
- Time to consult and build relationships with managerial peers an internal customers
- Time for individual professional development (thru mentor opportunities, seminars and/or conferences)
- Time to manage their emotional and physical health without scrutiny or repercussion
- Time to manage other areas of their lives and relationships without scrutiny or repercussion
The key ingredient = TIME
In his 1748 essay titled “Advice to a Young Tradesman”, Benjamin Franklin wrote: “…TIME is money”; and for the sake of this article, I would add that… “spending it wisely now will protect its potency (or value) later”.
British Author, Philosopher and Statesman, Sir Francis Bacon agrees in his statement…
“To choose TIME is to save TIME.”
I think we can all reasonably agree that time is a finite resource. Setting aside the unhealthy consequences of turning back the sun or arresting the moon, what else can leaders do to enhance this finite resource for the managers on whom they depend?
I’m so glad you asked! Here are a some suggestions:
- Get to know them. Find out what makes them tick and why.
- Engage in transparent and meaningful communication by set goals and expectations collaboratively
- Advocate for your managers (in all circles and at levels)
- Optimize the meetings they are required to attend (use meeting time productively)
- Be present when you’re present
- Don’t micromanage them – give them space to create a sustainable team environment
- Listen to their suggestions or concerns regarding staffing and process
- Ensure they have access to consistent and reliable resources and data streams – budgets and financial/operational data to assist in personnel and process decisions
- Show genuine and sustained interest in their professional development; providing guidance toward that end
- Be for them what you want to see in them. In other words… Lead by example.
This may be a tall order… and I could write several articles on each of these areas – but as a leader, please remember that you won’t be able to measure up to all of these attributes all of the time and that disclaimers are generally welcomed. In fact, they prove that you are both secure and human… not a bad combination.
Here’s an example: If you’re distracted or in a hurry while meeting with your managers, say so and let them know why (if you can). They will respect your transparency and forgive the inattentiveness or brevity – because they have basis to understand your position and demeanor.
As we’ve discussed, we all have the same number of hours in a day. We also know that nothing can replace the rest and refreshment (downtime) needed to fuel the attributes of maximum engagement, efficiency, accuracy and sustainable. But this list of suggested items which ARE within the leader’s control can help to protect the potency of the time available – creating a mutually beneficial atmosphere for sustainable productivity and success.
I propose that the “secret weapon” for these extraordinary managers lies with the extraordinary leaders they support. These are the secure women and men who are willing to extend themselves through influence and availability – facilitating success by protecting the potency of their TIME.