3 Habits To Help Great Leaders Be Good Managers

Managing is about being face to face with people and helping them work through the steps to success.  Great leadership is often draped in words like vision, inspiration, and determination.  But even great leaders have to put on the manager hat and address the needs of their direct staff.  Here are three habits that will make that happen.

1.  Get to know your people:  Building trust starts with knowing someone.  When I walk into start-up companies it is common for people to hire friends and family first.  They do that because the relationship is there, and with relationships comes speed in decision making and patience with stress behaviors/poor decisions.  One tool I use with all clients is what I call a Team Member Fact Sheet.  Use this in your onboarding process(after you hire) to get to know your people and for them to get to know you. 

2. Commit to regular/uninterrupted One on One Time:  At least monthly you should be sitting down with every direct report and checking in.  30 minutes is ideal, but 15 minutes is acceptable.  Two key things about these meetings.  First, you do not allow interruptions.  Show them your commitment by delaying calls from anyone (including spouse and CEO).  Secondly, give the agenda to them.  I will be publishing a template later this month to enable this, but this being their time is key.

3.  Memorize these questions: What do you need from me?  Outside of this task list, what other significant things are happening for you?  The focus of one on ones from a manager perspective is in the first question.  If the tasks are well defined and the success measures are in place the celebrations (getting things done) or problem solving (getting stuck/behind) will happen.  I NEED are two very powerful words for followers to say, and very difficult because too often NEED = WEAKNESS in the minds of people.  The second question allows you to learn what is happening outside of work.  Don’t be surprised if they start asking you this question.

Robert Hurley shared 5 principles leaders can adopt to demonstrate trustworthiness and increase trust across their organizations.  Here is the full post, but the 5 points were:

  • Show that your interests are the same.
  • Demonstrate concern for others
  • Deliver on your promises
  • Be consistent and honest
  • Communicate frequently, clearly and openly

These principles are embedded in the actions I shared. 

Lead well!  And manage a little along the way.

Lessons in Leadership: Chris Ilitch

Recently I had the opportunity to see Chris Ilitch speak about the Little Caesars culture and success. He is the son of the founder, Mike Ilitch. Some basics on this organization is that it is a privately held $4.2B company that derives income from 11 different organizations that includes pro sports (Tigers and Red Wings), pizza (Little Caesars), food distribution, entertainment, and gambling.

Here are the key values/beliefs that he titled – Secrets to the Sauce.

  1. Think Big / Set Goals
  2. Creativity and Innovation (remember Pizza Pizza? They started that craze)
  3. Courage and Risk Taking
  4. Perseverance and Commitment (“Not all risks pay off. Mistakes will happen.”)
  5. Humility and Character (“Don’t get to high. Don’t get to low.” “If you do something good people will find out about it.”
  6. People and Giving Back

Every speaker leaves you with something.  For me, the thing I took away was how long it took to build this organization and how diverse it has become.  The first store opened in 1961, the 100th in 1988, and the 2000th in 1989.  Overnight success?  Hardly.  Now their businesses go way beyond pizza, and yet what has not changed is a commitment to a struggling city (Detroit) and a state where it all started.  Chris ended the presentation with that reminder that their key has been to define what is important to them(this list) and then stick with it.

No family or business is perfect, and I am sure the Ilitchs are no different.  It is a great story and Chris Illitch does a great job telling it.