Bosses

In my corporate career I had 11 different management positions, domestic and international, with 2 global corporations.  And so 11 different bosses. And, since I worked in Human Resources, I had an additional 11 different matrixed bosses.  

Some of those positions covered as many as 13 countries, 19 manufacturing plants and 13,000 employees, some the entire globe, and one, a world region.  So with little imagination one could appreciate the sophistication, complexity, and business savvy of some of my bosses.

This is not about me, but about some of the stuff I learned from them.

From boss #1, I learned about using humor to lessen conflict, the importance of accuracy in writing, labor relations skills, and honesty in negotiations, and compensation processes and systems. And, supporting the community.  Scope: individual contributor.

From the next, the importance of influence, and maintaining morale in a 500 person manufacturing facility and how to keep an even keel in tumultuous situations.  Scope: single plant.

Boss # 3.  Striking a balance between work and family.  And, you don’t always win those corporate arguments.  And the importance of celebrating employee successes at work.  And maintaining a professional presence in the face of diversity.  And masterful instruction in understanding business finances and statements.  Scope: single plant

Next, how a peer manager who becomes your boss, who for reasons not mentioned here, changes from an adversary to a partner.  It is all about teamwork and often the team is what it is and you leverage the strengths and put up with the shortcomings. And how decisions have to be made in the best interest of the corporation and the stockholders, with the outcome sometimes being negative for local employees and their communities.  And, how to manage through that with compassion and empathy. Scope: single plant.

Boss # 5: Managing multiple locations, avoiding the label “I’m from headquarters and I’m here to help”, removing people who are entrenched in the organization and who don’t do their jobs.  How to run a complex multi-location project. Working through the intricacies and frustrations of the corporate political animal. Importance of helping people manage their careers, sponsoring them, and moving them when they are ready.  Scope: seven locations.

Next, working under a boss who has lost control of an organization, is a poor manager and leader, and leveraging internal resources and the greater corporation to get things done.  How to restructure a business, manage product line relocations, and associated, highly complex communications planning and implementation. a Scope: single plant.

Number 7:  Working in an environment with a verbally abusive boss for 2 years; sticking it out for another 5 years and winning the “war”.  You can change almost anything you put your mind to and be free to be creative on your job. How important and appreciated employee recognition can be.  And creating and deploying talent management as a critically important tool and process. And another masterful instructor on understanding business finances and statements, and international business management.  Managing from strategy to implementation to metrics in a complex, matrix work environment. Scope: 13 plants, 3 countries.

Boss 8: How to keep your cool in any situation, lessons on managing through the political landscape.  Scope: multiple plants, 13 countries.

Next.  Another master in business financial management and multi-location, multi-country, international business management to include acquisitions and divestitures.  Scope: multiple plants, 13 countries.

Boss 10: The value of giving people enough space to do their jobs. Managing careers.  Scope: 4 world regions, global.

Boss 11: Working through the ever present, frustrating micro manager.  Boss 12 replaced boss 11. A skilled, masterful leader who gave you freedom and space to do their job. Scope: world region.

All: Most subscribed to and lived by corporate values and ethics across the two corporations.  For most there was only one result when behavior dictated otherwise… zero tolerance.

***** S&E *****  

Help Yourself Help Others…

…quotes on leadership from some very famous people.

https://www.resourcefulmanager.com/guides/successful-leaders/

They are great to read, but, stop short of contributing to your tool kit unless put into practice.

The fact is anyone can use this advice, there is no requirement to be famous, only a desire for self-improvement and a genuine interest in leadership and leading!

Great “take-aways” for leaders, managers, supervisors or anyone who interfaces with anyone, so I suspect that is all of us! And in one way or another I believe we all have the opportunity to lead in some capacity.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. —Lao Tzu

***** S&E *****

So simple, some complex… communications!

On several occasions I hired a communications consultant for annual key management team meetings to impress on our management group the critical importance of the skill — communications.

Often the message was a rehashing of the basics as if those are not present then messages (written, spoken) fail to achieve the goal. Consider the graphics below on Role, Process, and Buy-in. Of course the degree of planning would vary depending on complexity of project.

In the end our consultant would make sure the group left with the same thought as a takeaway and consider in their work…”when something goes wrong, 90 percent of the time it can be linked to poor communications”.

***** S&E*****

Part of the Fabric

If you are taking on a new management assignment, if you are a new boss, you have but a short time to make expected changes. “Expected Changes” are usually anticipated by employees and coworkers when the boss’s position turns over.

The longer the new boss is in the job, employees and coworkers settle into the new ways (or the status quo; old ways) and do not look for continuing, significant changes. At that point the boss can become part of the fabric of the organization where significant change becomes a larger and possibly more difficult undertaking.

A new boss may be tested by some who could not convince the last boss to make a change… just be aware as the change may be unnecessary or counter to a direction that the business needs to pursue. Examine the request carefully.

To avoid becoming part of the fabric, as a new boss, make significant changes within the first three months through the first year. Make sure your boss and other bosses affected are on board. That does not mean you need everyone’s concurrence. A participative environment is is important, it helps with building buy-in for change. That does not mean that running the business or department is a democracy! It should not be!

Making changes for change sake is foolish… changes that improve efficiency, performance, morale, and the numbers — perfect!

Never, never, never underestimate the importance of continuous, accurate and all- encompassing communications when planning and implementing change.

***** S&E *****

New Leader’s Orientation

You have a new job… You have 12 people reporting to you, two direct reports and the others reporting to them.

Leadership

You absolutely need to have a meeting of “All Hands”, your direct and indirect reports, within the first few weeks on the job, notwithstanding who reports to who.  It is a prime opportunity, to set the standards and expectations, win them over, and dislodge any concerns about “the new boss”.  And, it is a prime opportunity to have an open exchange and discussion. Here are some suggested talking points:

  • Roadblocks and barriers
  • Schedule one on one’s
  • Open door
  • Have some fun, humor
  • About setting objectives
  • Expectations about performance
  • Boss’s role and responsibilities
  • Reports role and responsibilities
  • Importance of communications
  • Values and Ethics
  • Career help and assistance
  • Review the company’s behavioral competencies list (if one exist)
  • One-on-one followup schedule

In a much earlier posting, “A Leader’s Leader”, a brief entry was made on traits important to work and performance …. https://successnexcess.com/2017/11/26/a-leaders-leader/ some applicable for noting in the ‘all hands” orientation, some for one-on-one followups. All are good for career coaching, improving performance, and mentoring.

***** S&E *****

The Frightening Responsibility of Leadership

The link below will take you to the article titled “Making The Tough Calls”, written by Fast Company Editor-in Chief, Stephanie Mehta. She doesn’t need anyone paraphrasing for her. I just have to say that this captures the very scary responsibility of leadership and the importance of values at the foundation of business, especially as it relates to AI.

This is not a long read… but it should leave some weighty thoughts on your mind.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90395810/from-the-editor-what-the-ceos-of-bumble-and-nike-have-in-common

***** S&E *****

Success and Ignorance

So Andrew Luck announces his retirement from the Colts. He explains that the years of injuries and pain that he experienced and the continuing possibility of more of the same was just not worth the impact on his health and family.

During his career, Luck suffered a lacerated kidney, a torn abdomen, torn cartilage, and a concussion.


So the fans booed him as he walked off the field for the last time. They did not applaud for the yeas of leadership he provided for the team. They did not applaud for the tremendous athletic ability he demonstrated through years at the QB position. They did not applaud for the years of wins and thrills he provided on the gridiron. There was no standing ovation for the four-time Pro Bowler! Luck said that it hurt walking off the field, hearing that from the “fans”.

I placed this post under success because of what the man contributed to NFL, to the sport, to the community, to the fans. This post is all about that!

It is a post about success, nothing short of success in so many dimensions!

Separately, I just have to say that there must be a tremendous amount of ignorance, tunnel vision, and just plain stupidity in Indianapolis, as demonstrated by the “fans” at last Saturdays preseason game. They enjoyed years of so much entertainment, thrills, and pride, courtesy of the team and Andrew Luck. All of that at the leadership of Andrew Luck! And that is how they send him off!

Good luck Andrew Luck… there are many of us that applaud your contribution to the NFL, the community, the sport, and the team!

***** S&E *****