As an educator, I’m always on the lookout for ways to stimulate my students towards higher level learning, and consequently, greater opportunities to achieve their maximum potential, whether it be in education, work or life.
I found an executive, career and personal coach whose mantra appealed to me on several levels, and whose writings can certainly stimulate active debate, though even more so in the wider workplace than in education. Jan Gordon is a ‘rock star’ on the convention
circuit in the United States as she invigorates entire workforces through her blunt messages.
Gordon is adamant that genuine, ‘getting your hands dirty,’ experience is the key to effective management, and she doesn’t simply preach from a pulpit in this. With experience as an entrepreneur who understands the dynamics and realities of commerce, as a former political strategist she is aware of the mire of public sector management, and as a mental health supervisor, she has significant awareness of the huge role of psychological fitness, in organisational, institutional, and public sector management.
In identifying, long ago, the qualities that are essential to be an effective manager, Gordon said that, “An effective manager taps into all of the talent and resources around them, evoking possibilities in others.”
At the end of the day, that should be what managers do, but many see ‘others’ as a threat, so they keep their ‘foot on the throat,’ so to speak, suppressing
their innovation, ideas and imagination, out of fear.
Gordon’s mission is to enhance performance, increase productivity and profitability. To create powerful (empowering?), behavioural change, helping management and employees to see all there is, do all they can, and be all they are, unleashing potential that supports intent, brings success and reward.
Even more interesting is the fact that of her ten highest rated management qualities, the ability to ‘manage’ others doesn’t even make the list, and yet how many of us have not been subject to management with intimidation at the forefront of management ‘tools.’ Such attitudes and practices are archaic, yet they survive.
The world is changing however, and institutional policies and procedures, which rightly support the employees as much as their supervisors are bastions against workplace abuses. Gordon identifies these structures as essential today, and explains that knowing the parameters, limitations, guidelines and processes intimately guides
others in the workplace to work with certainty, and ultimately, more productively.
She sees ‘creativity’ as always pushing boundaries, capturing attention, and adding vibrancy to the workplace, thus increasing its appeal, and in that, it separates competence from excellence. ‘Intuition’ too rates very highly and stresses the role of humanity and emotional intelligence in management. Knowing what others are feeling and thinking can be a powerful weapon! Does anyone remember the Mel Gibson movie, ‘What Women Want?’ True, respected leaders, who are human and don’t hide behind titles, desks or salaries, are valued for their understanding, and that, no doubt, is priceless.
Writing, “A stellar manager doesn’t just produce outstanding results, but has fun in the process! Lightness doesn’t impede results but rather, helps to move the team forward, complementing the seriousness of the task, the resolve of the team, and therefore contributing to strong team results and employee retention.”
Knowledge, commitment, versatility, trust and reliability are all key management qualities, but Gordon brings us all back to earth somewhat too, in recognising, and re-emphasising, that we are all the same. We’re all just people who need to work together to make our businesses, institutions, organisations, towns, cities, countries and even our planet as good as each can be, saying, “Excellent managers see the big picture at the same time as they manage the details.” Get the little things right, and the big things will take care of themselves. Look after your people, first!