The SECRET to Management Excellence

Management it is said, is the art of getting people to willing do what you want them to do. Easy to say… tough to achieve.

During the many twists and turns of my career, I have sought to study and learn as much as possible — tactically, strategically and psychologically — so I could excel in management and as a leader. Along the way, I have taken counsel with a lot of really smart people from all walks… executives, academics, military, the best store managers, the best baseball coaches, even many historical greats I have studied, but have never had the honor to meet. I made it my mission to learn about effective and/or excellent management skills from the most successful people I could corral.

Regardless of their background, experiences or training, all great managers and leaders seem to agree on one “contingent condition” upon which their success will ultimately depend. And, without this “contingent condition,” their success would at best…be limited or restricted.

And that’s why I call it “the SECRET.”

This “secret” is the one thing upon which your own management excellence will depend and be measured. Indeed, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, how tough you are, how many hours you work or even how driven you are. When the book is written on your success as a manager, it is your understanding and application of this SECRET that will frame you.

So here is that SECRET…

Surround yourself with great people.

Many of you want to stop reading right here, convinced that you’re not about to learn anything. But… trust me… read on.

There are two ways you can accomplish this very difficult objective of aligning great people to work with you. If you are already blessed with great and smart people around you, then share your vision of a better tomorrow, set your expectations high and watch them fly to excellence. If you are not blessed with great people, then you must grow your people to greatness.

Think of this simply as: Turning your “C” players into “B” players and your “B” players into “A” players.

How? By teaching, training and COACHING every day. Use every situation, good and bad, as a teachable, coachable moment. Huddle with them, hold class, communicate your vision, your expectations and your standards and teach/share your know-how knowledge.

You must take the needed time to cause your people to be as passionate about excellence as you are. Give them a crystal clear window into your vision of what excellence looks like. When you do, you multiply your personal best by the personal best of everyone on your team. And then, you increase your effectiveness by a factor of “X”…

And remember, when you hire people that are smarter than you, they make you smarter.

I know, the SECRET sounds fundamentally simple. And, in fact, it is.

Here’s a start:

1. Define your MISSION: What are you there for. What do you want to accomplish. What will be your legacy?

2. Have a clear VISION of what needs to be accomplished, and why. Be sure it is so clear that you can paint the picture of exactly what it looks like for everyone on your team.

3. Know your STANDARDS: Only a small percentage of managers have defined Standards. Know yours… be able to speak to them, live them every day, be very consistent and set visible examples by them.

4. Determine to LEAD: There is no greater honor than to lead good people in pursuit of a worthy goal. As the leader, train your team and be accountable for execution excellence.

5. COMMUNICATE with excellence: Weekly manager meetings: cover the vital, tactical issues, but always have a “standards” topic discussion.

6. Huddle: Great leaders find teachable moments. Pick a topic born of a recent event. Open discussion with team members about what occurred, why it was excellent of what could have been done to make it excellent. This is not a lecture or class. It’s a leaders “Team Huddle” to share experiences and align thinking and standards so that you can move forward as a team.

7. Stop, Listen, SHARE: As a leader, your #1 job is to have a clear vision [a picture] of the future and what it should be. Your #2 job is to share your vision and your knowledge and cause everyone on your team to want to willingly adopt your vision and goals as their own.

Great leaders live with a passion to achieve a clear vision. Often, what they want to achieve is bigger than what they can achieve on their own.

If you can see it in your minds-eye, crystallize it, share it and teach, coach and lead your team to it your team will help you to get to your objective.