Reject this Myth about Management Before it’s too Late
The danger of a myth is it works until it destroys you.
A path based on a lie always leads to oblivion.
The myth to reject: always-on is the path to success.
Always-on is the path to ‘success’ for big egos.
Here’s a news flash. The world will go on without you. Big-ego-managers lose their families and destroy their health.
Successful managers have humility that honors the aspiration of talented others. Delegate to people who aspire to advance.
How to delegate so you can turn off:
- Create development plans for team members. Who wants your job, or one like yours?
- Limit availability. Identify the go-to person when you aren’t available. Only a handful of people have permission to call when you’re off.
- Train people to try stuff. Say, “I want to be helpful, but don’t call me until you’ve tried to solve an issue.”
Always-on is destructive desire for power, advancement, or wealth. You have haywire values if you’re always-on. Greed gobbles you up and pulls you down.
Elevate the value of relationships and health to enrich your life.
Always-on is fear of loss. Fear loves seeing you grovel.
It takes courage to turn off in a world that expects you to be always-on.
How always-on managers turn off:
- Commit to longevity and fulfillment.
- Work hard when you’re at work.
- Focus on doing things that only you can do. Work to delegate the rest.
- Create end-of-day rituals. Check-in with key team members. Clear your desk. Know what you’re going to do tomorrow morning.
- Prioritize time. (See #3 above.)
- Realize that you only win when the race is over. How might you create more endings?
- Take something out of your bucket. Your bucket always overflows if you keep putting stuff in it.
Learn to turn-off or life will teach you.
How might managers learn to turn-off?
What other destructive myths about management do people believe?
I think managers and leaders need to be “always on” when it comes to their core beliefs and values. You can’t be “on again” and “off again” when it comes to honesty, respect, loyalty, determination, listening, courage etc.
Managers can “turn off their” obsession with always being right. And the other person is wrong. Turn off their need for approval and being liked. Turn down the amount of time managers spend talking and increase their listening time.
Some of my students thought managers had to be perfect 24/7. The best managers have no weaknesses. That’s a myth!
Thanks Paul. Powerful insights. Choose your always items. Don’t let someone else choose them for you.
Stop needing to be always right… now that’s a point of growth that many of us could embrace. 🙂
You added some really important things to turn off. I think I need to compile the complete list of management myths!
Dan, I was thinking….
Another management myth—managers are not as valuable as leaders. Or leaders are more important than managers.
Of course–we need both–managers and leaders.
Paul, the term “leader” has more prestige than “manager.” As you indicate, that’s a big mistake. Title doesn’t make the man or woman. The woman or man makes the title.
I struggle with not being “always-on,” and I know I must do better. Turning off is an excellent way to model work-life balance as well as show your trust in those you have hired/trained for their roles. You are demonstrating to them that they are doing well enough to fly on their own. As I am at the tail end of training for an employee, it is nice to be able to get back to my normal working hours. I am still staying vigilant though as mistakes have been made, but at this point, I know I have provided every tool imaginable for the job to be done well and right.
Thanks Mandy. I had a work-a-holic boss once. It’s hard to have work-life balance in that setting. Example is powerful.
I wish you well as you learn to turn off. I’m not sure if we fully learn this lesson.
This is an excellent and concise list of guidelines to avoid being “always on.”
One of my mentors told me a long time ago, “Even a candle continuously burning at only one end eventually burns out.” He spotted the early signs of “always on” in my behavior, and helped me turn from that path.
I agree that the self-deception that a manager is indispensable drives a lot of this behavior. Why else would so many managers complain about how much they have to work, while still neglecting to develop others to share the load?
My greatest joy was developing others to eventually replace me, and to try and help them to be better than I was at each step along the way. It is a good feeling to retire knowing you have left your role in capable hands, and that those you helped develop are in turn helping others develop.
Wow… great insights, Jim. Thanks for your transparency.
A reluctance to train others seems to be a clear warning sign of problems. That insight is so challenging and helpful.
I love the way you take complex behaviors and convert them into digestible conversation with meaning for all…I like to think of it as Leadership Wisdom, many thanks!
Thank you, Ken. Best wishes.
I love the “Focus on doing things that only you can do. Work to delegate the rest.” This was an important lesson that I’ve learned (can continue to learn!) early on. There are so many important messages in delegation:
1. leaves me to focus on what only I can do.
2. Messages that I trust others.
3. Messages that this place can run without me. (As in, this place can run and it is not one-person dependent.)
4. Others are capable of making decisions.
5. mistakes can and will be made and we can all grow from them.
6. Creates a succession plan.
Staying “off” while away from work is hard and I’ve got a long way to go. As the “fire chief” I have to remember that others can all so put out fires. I am responsible for putting out those that directly threaten our mission.
Thanks bardohn. The great comments just keep rolling in. I respect your language around this topic. “can continue to learn.” Let’s face it. many of the great lessons are never fully learned.
Your list of benefits of delegating show the power of this practice.
“Successful managers have humility that honors the aspiration of talented others. Delegate to people who aspire to advance.” “Focus on doing things that only you can do. Work to delegate the rest.” So this is my dynamic, my life, and my challenge. I am good at what I do and I know how to do it. I delegate to others who aspire to advance. But the “others” is a limited subset of the team. Some “aspire to advance” most (IMHO) are just going through the motions with little passion or attitude forward. That makes the delegation challenging, frustrating, and nonfulfilling. I’ve said it before on this forum, “I blame the Dads for the lack of passion, hard work ethic and attitude forward in the young-ins.” There I’ve vented but again.
Thanks Roger. It’s so frustrating to expect more from others than they are willing to rise to. I wonder if it’s just best to focus on high-aspiration people and be polite with the rest?
Always glad to read your ventings and learn from your insights.
I wonder if it’s just best to focus on high-aspiration people and be polite with the rest? Dan, this is what I do most of the time. If someone does not want themselves to be high aspiring I can’t make them.
Thanks makes sense and seems less frustrating.
Many, many organisations are absolutely committed to having people “always on”. That’s the expectation. They own you, body and soul, every hour of every day. And in places like that, if you can delegate, something else will be delegated to YOU to fill the space you managed to make.
Thanks Mitch. It sounds like a dog chasing its tail.
There is a belief that we have to sell our soul to the company in order to get ahead. But who wants to get ahead in that kind of company?
The evidence suggests that quite a lot of people are prepared, or even willing, to. That in itself may not be an especially comforting observation.
I needed to hear this today, especially #7. Thank you.
We are only getting one trip through last I knew. That being said Teach, share, mentor, the world does not revolve around us! Plan for the future of others hoping you have them prepared for what we lived through. Lets hope for the “Ego Trippers” to get the picture, everyone is expendable, “tough Love”, before we shove you out the door. If we are remembered for doing good things and living up to expectations great, if not still do your best.
Thanks Tim. There’s a focus in your comment that shifts my approach and speaks to my heart. “Plan for the future of others.” Of course we can’t force our plans on others. But your comment reflects an outward-focused approach that makes everyone’s life fuller.
VERY good article.
One addition for an article of this type. When leaders always micromanage tasks demanding approval prior to action, it will lead to inaction even when the employee knows better.
I very much like to involve those I lead in every aspect of my job if they choose to participate, and let them know clearly I have every confidence in their decisions made with the best information they have at the time. I also let them know clearly when I am out of the office and they are acting on my behalf that I want to forget about work. I can do that knowing full well they can handle the duties while I am out.
It makes for a much more peaceful rest knowing I will not have to come back to a number of problems that have been simmering since I left.
Thanks Hot. The myth that we need to give approval to everything, as you indicate, leads to inaction. If you’ve ever worked in a top down organization where appearances are the most important thing, you know what it’s like to die on the vine.
This one hits hard. I’ve always been one who knows what the “right” thing to do. I’m thorough, I know my stuff and if I had to wait for permission nothing would get done. I’ve only been asked a few times why I did not seek permission. I always ask, “ Did I do the right thing”, the answer has always been yes but you should have asked. I say you pay me well to make the “right” decisions and if I had to wait you’d take too long and we’d miss out on the sale and helping our customer. Every time “they” admit you are correct and move on to something else. Better to ask for forgiveness on doing the right thing than not do anything.
The trap of “it’s about winning” is way to sticky, rather like fly paper – one struggles with it until one dies unless you let wisdom steer you away from it to begin with. If the objective is to keep our business going into perpetuity then we must think of ourselves and those around us in that light. Over the years my questions have turned to, “How do I help keep our people going so the business keeps going?” vs. “How do we win this or that?” It makes sunrises and sunsets much more enjoyable.
#6 is about ‘Completed Tasks’, I like the way you describe it as “Winning the race”. One must find the way to complete more tasks and optimise the time!
This past year has brought an interesting dynamic to the workforce with the ability to work from home. More individuals are working from home due to COVID-19. It will be interesting to see once work restrictions with working in the office are lifted, will organizations continue to allow staff to work from home? There are pros and cons with working from home. Once con that was mentioned with staff members working from home is that staff members will be less productive. I do not have any hard data to quote, but I believe that organizations have not seen a drop in production, but can be argued there has been an increase. If working from home continues, manager and staff members must setup boundaries with stopping work. It is very easy to work later or weekends with the ability to work at home. It will be interesting to see how dynamic of working from home continues or moves back to being in the office.