Over the years, we’ve worked with a number of managers who insist they have no time for thinking about how they manage people. They’re too busy putting out fires and responding to time and performance pressures. They’re fond of saying, “The only people who step back and contemplate are academics and consultants.”
The thing is, the most respected managers step back and contemplate too. Even in the crises. They believe a conscious, purposeful approach to managing their relationships is an integral part of their job, not a distraction. These managers control their impact so their employees’ contributions aren’t undermined by mindless, ineffective management!
Now exceptional managers aren’t constantly self-observant. They don’t reflect instead of producing. They don’t flout their time and performance pressures just to contemplate their navels. But they are ever-aware of the power of their position; they’re aware of the close watch their employees keep on them. Especially when the fires are blazing.
It’s also true that a real manager’s world inflicts periods of intense effort. These can leave precious little time for self-observation and self-improvement. Sometimes these periods are sustained. Sometimes weeks, months, even longer. But the turbulence always subsides. No manager is battered non-stop and forever – unless that’s the only way he knows how to function. Managers who understand the whole of their responsibilities use the time between crises to take stock. They have a private, “inner dialog” that helps them improve the way they handle their people in the next crisis.
It might be worthwhile to remember that your employees are watching you even if you’re not watching yourself. To see what we mean, keep an eye on the best managers in your own world… the ones who are held in the highest regard because they know how to both get through the day and inspire.