Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Stop trying to manage people

“I hate managing people” was my client’s opening comment, before we had greeted one another in our usual friendly manner. “Great. Time to stop trying.” was my reply. My client gave me an out of character blank look. “People cannot be managed.” I said. Another blank look.

I meet so many people negatively stressed by their perceived inability to solve so called people problems. After many years of observing and interacting with people I am led to the following conclusions:

*The problem with people is that we create our own problems
*People can only solve their own problems
*We can lead people, but not manage them (Leadership is the art of inspiring people to bring everything they are to everything they do. Management is the practice of making it simple for people to bring everything they are to everything they do)
*Leadership is therefore fundamentally about people and influence. Management is therefore fundamentally about systems and processes
*People bringing everything they are to everything they do rarely have problems they can’t solve
*On the surface less than desired performance occurs through lack of skill, will, circumstances beyond our control, or a combination of all three
*The underlying reason however for unsatisfactory performance is lack of self assurance
*When we are self assured we have the will and can learn the skill.
*Self assured people never bother about circumstances beyond their control

Having said all of the above, my client says “So my real role is to be self assured and to inspire others to be the same.” “Exactly.” I said

“So what are the characteristics of self assurance?” my client asks

The following are my thoughts that I shared with my client:

Self assured people:

*Demonstrate confidence that rarely spills over into arrogance
*Are committed to life-long learning, even to changing wisdom that was previously precious
*Live their values
*Make decisions that are often unpopular and follow these decisions through
*Readily turn information into insight
*Share insight but rarely information
*Articulate insight with clarity and passion so much so that others are inspired
*Fulfill responsibilities
*Deliver on promises
*Accept responsibility for their own feelings, thoughts and actions
*Respond to what happens rarely reacting
*Never blame or shame others
*Never take critique offered by others personally
*Offer critique to others without attachment to what others may do about it
*Demonstrate commitment to continuous improvement by actually continuously improving

My client and I spent a lot of time in keen conversation about the above drawing the following conclusions:

*We are authentic when we say what we mean and mean what we say
*We must genuinely love ourselves (warts and all) as the one-of-a-kind being that each of us is
*We must accept that our primary quest is to be the best one-of-a-kind being we can be
*When workplace culture is one where everyone is on such a quest our workplaces will be the remarkable places they should be
*Such workplaces are free of people problems

Stop trying to manage people. Call it a strategy if you will. Instead be self-assured and co-create an environment where others can be self-assured.

Warning: Never ever confuse a person with a problem.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian


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