Thursday, 25 October 2012

Beware The Busy Person

Wednesday 30 May, 2007
Surprisingly, research by Bruch and Ghoshal published in the Harvard Business Review, found that only 10% of managers could be moving a company forward. The rest may look busy - but they're probably just spinning their wheels.
That special 10% - your purposeful managers - make the seemingly impossible happen.
Purposeful managers embody two elements essential for driving meaningful change:
  • focus - zeroing in on goals and seeing them to completion, weighing options before acting, and concentrating on key projects, and;
  • energy - vigor fueled by intense personal commitment and the capacity to tackle heavy workloads to meet tight deadlines.
One element without the other isn't enough. It's possible - even likely - that 90% of managers could lack one - or both. Here's how to identify a company's purposeful manager - and help everyone else join their ranks.

Purposeful managers

Why are purposeful managers so productive? With their focus and energy, they carefully orchestrate their time - e.g. building "think time" into their schedule, answering e-mails during specified periods of the day, etc.
They are also crystal clear about their intentions, demonstrate unrelenting willpower, pick their battles carefully, and feel personally responsible for their company's fate.
Most importantly, they refuse to let others (bosses, peers) or organizational constraints (job descriptions, salaries) limit their agendas. Instead they define their goals, then control their environment to meet their objectives - cultivate influential relationships, independently accessing resources, etc.
Managers short on focus and/or energy can have damaging consequences for a company:
  1. The procrastinators (low focus, low energy) dutifully perform routine tasks but fail to take initiative, raise performance levels, or engage with strategy.
  2. The disengaged (high focus, low energy) are exhausted and unable to commit to tasks that hold little meaning for them. They approach their work halfheartedly, deny a problem exists, or refuse to act even when it's critical.
  3. The distracted (low focus, high energy) comprise most managers. Shortsighted and over-committed, they feel a desperate need to do something - anything - when pressure mounts. But short on reflection, they have trouble developing strategies and adjusting their behaviour to new realities.

Creating purposeful managers

How to boost your manager's energy and focus? Give them meaningful challenges, then let them decide how to meet them. Empower them to turn compelling visions into reality. Stress how essential their contributions are.

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