Joe and Wanda on Management

Joe Kerr and Wanda B. Goode, two characters from Nick McCormick’s book, “Lead Well and Prosper,” dispense their management wisdom

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Month: March, 2008

More Phil Martelli – Manager as Bartender

26 March, 2008 (22:59) | Leadership, Leadership Development, Management | By: Administrator

In his book, Don’t Call Me Coach: A Lesson Plan for Life, Phil Martelli states the following…

“I believe that whether you’re a parent, a coach, a teacher, a CEO, an office manager, a professional, or several of the above, you want the people who represent you to handle themselves in a certain way. Think of yourself as, say, a bartender, a bartender for life. Your success every night depends not only on your skill in mixing drinks but on your ability to listen, to communicate, to empathize, to sense how a person feels, to perceive a situation or a scenario. Quite a set of “people skills” are involved. Aren’t they similar to the skills we expect all our coaches, our teachers, and our managers to master? If you’re as attentive to body language and your surroundings as a skilled bartender has to be, you are bound to relate better to everyone around you.”


Joe Kerr: OK Phil Martini. Next time I order a Dewars on the Rocks I’ll ask the punk for some pointers. Better yet, I’ll hire him to head up one of my teams. He can do some brown bag sessions on how to make small talk and be nice to people.

Wanda B. Goode: There’s no doubt a good manager needs to develop people skills. The thing I particularly like about the analogy is that bartenders must earn their pay via their people skills each and every day. I think if all managers approached their jobs similarly, there would be a lot more joy and productivity in the workplace.

To read more about on simple people skills, check out this post.

Phil Martelli on Teamwork

24 March, 2008 (22:23) | Management, Team Building | By: Administrator

Phil Martelli, coach of St. Joseph University men’s basketball team, wrote a book recently called, Don’t Call Me Coach: A Lesson Plan for Life. In it he lists the pillars required for creating teamwork.

  1. Compete
  2. Share
  3. Take your shot when it comes
  4. Know your strengths and weaknesses

There seems to be a nice parallel with creating teamwork in the workplace, wouldn’t you agree?

Joe Kerr: Martelli and the St. Joe’s Hawks got bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament this year! So much for Phil’s teamwork! Whatever happened to “Just win baby!” If Phil and his team adopted that attitude I wouldn’t be out one hundred bucks right now.

Wanda B. Goode: There seems to be a lot in common with the worlds of sport and business. The four pillars mentioned by Phil Martelli are definitely appropriate in my world. For teamwork to flourish, team members need to be engaged and interested in getting better, in achieving the common goal. They also need to be willing to make the necessary sacrifices for the good of the team – to include sharing. Similarly, team members need to trust and rely on one another. When it comes time to perform, each team member must step up and “take the shot” for the good of the team. Finally, team members must know their strengths and weaknesses, playing to their strengths and leaning on other team members to minimize their weaknesses.

To read more about on teamwork, check out this post.

“Nothing Exalted About Being an Effective Executive”

19 March, 2008 (23:15) | Leadership, Leadership Development, Management | By: Administrator

Another quote from Peter Drucker’s book, The Effective Executive

“There is nothing exalted about being an effective executive. There are surely higher goals for a man’s life. But only because the goal is so modest can we hope to achieve it; that is to have the large number of effective executives modern society and its organizations need… If we required saints, poets, or even first-rate scholars to staff our knowledge positions, the large scale organization would simply be absurd and impossible.”

Joe and Wanda, care to comment?

Joe Kerr: Un “Drucking” believable! Do we have to keep coming back to this guy? If you think any Tom, Dick, or Harry (or Mary for that matter), could do my job, you are sadly mistaken.

Wanda B. Goode: That’s good news for all of us, right? We don’t have to be geniuses to be good managers and good leaders. We just need to execute some basic fundamentals consistently. No, it’s not easy, but it can certainly be done.

It reminds me a lot of Lead Well and Prosper (shameless marketing plug). You don’t have to be a superstar. Work hard at becoming a good manager and positive results will follow.

Coaching Directs

16 March, 2008 (20:14) | Management, Training | By: Administrator

I was over on the Manager Tools website and listened to a podcast on the importance of coaching direct reports. The hosts explain some of the reasons managers seem to have an aversion toward coaching. They dispel the myth that it takes a tremendous amount of time. According to them, all it takes is 5 minutes per week for each direct report.

They make the case that managers who communicate regularly that they need to see notable improvement, provide guidance on how to do so, and measure progress will noticeably outperform the managers that do not. Further, organizations filled with these managers will drastically outperform others.

They compare these brief coaching sessions to a performance fitness program. Managers and their teams get stronger every day, so they are ready to take advantage of opportunities and weather any storms.

Check out the podcast here.

Joe, you’ve made it abundantly clear that you are not big into coaching so I think I’ll go right to Wanda on this one.

Joe Kerr: Hold the phone there bud! I can coach with the best of them. You should have seen my Knute Rockne “win one for the Gipper” speech the other day. We needed to hit a deadline and I had to step up and make sure we crossed the goal line. I was the Gipper by the way. It was a bad week for the market. I really took a bath. I let them know how important it was for me to hit my numbers this year – to avoid having to cancel my golf vacation in Boca. I find real life stories that are close to home are the most inspirational.

Moderator: Did you make the deadline?

Joe Kerr: Not exactly, but it was one hell of a speech. I wish I had taped it.

Moderator: How about you Wanda, any thoughts?

Wanda B. Goode: I certainly agree in the importance of coaching. In his book, Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do and What to Do About It, Ferdinand Fournies points out that many mistakenly believe that just hiring the right people is all it takes – Just let them go and do their thing. If that were the case we wouldn’t need managers, just good recruiters.

Drucker on Decision Making

12 March, 2008 (22:30) | Leadership, Management | By: Administrator

Drucker on Decision Making

In his book, The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker states the following…

“Unless one has considered alternatives, one has a closed mind. This, above all, explains why effective decision-makers deliberately disregard the second major command of the textbooks on decision–making and create a dissension and disagreement, rather than consensus… Decisions of the kind the executive has to make are not made well by acclamation. They are made well only if based on the clash of conflicting views, the dialogue between different points of view, the choice between different judgments. The first rule of decision-making is that one does not make a decision unless there is a disagreement.”

Joe and Wanda, how do you approach difficult decisions? Do you seek consensus or dissension?

Joe Kerr: All my decisions are unanimous. They are decisions of one, because I have the only vote that counts. The buck stops here!

Wanda B. Goode: Probably a bit of both, and sometimes neither. As usual, Drucker makes a lot of sense, but I know I don’t invite dissension as often as I should. It certainly is tempting just to ram a decision through without seeking alternatives. Some mistakenly view this as being decisive, when it’s really being lazy. It may be a lot quicker, but it can backfire big time.

I can also seen how those that try to persuade first or that surround themselves with “yes” men and women might feel better if everyone is “on board,” but they won’t be able to make the best decisions because the issues will not have been properly vetted.

I’d be interested to know how others approach decision-making.

For more on the topic check out this post on “constructive conflict”

Larry Bossidy on Leadership Development

9 March, 2008 (22:53) | Leadership Development | By: Administrator

In his book, Execution, Larry Bossidy states that in his first two years at Allied Signal he devoted thirty to forty percent of his time to leadership development. That’s how much importance he placed on the activity. Once he felt that he had a good pipeline of leaders he dropped that down to twenty percent of his time. That’s a lot of time for anyone to spend on leadership development, let alone a CEO of a major corporation.

Joe and Wanda, how much time do you spend developing your leaders?

Joe Kerr: I didn’t get to where I am now by having my bosses dote on me, and I have no plans to do the same with anyone that works in my organization. Make no mistake, the troops do learn from me. They benefit from seeing me in action each and every day. How do you measure the value of that? I’m not sure, but I know it’s enormous.

Most often, when I’m in need of a new leader, I look outside the organization anyway. It’s good to have new blood every once in a while. Why waste time and money on training leaders when you can have others do it for you? Besides, I need my people turning out product. That’s what they are good at.

Wanda B. Goode: I’m a front line manager, so I don’t manage other leaders. I do manage some aspiring leaders though. I must admit, I don’t spend twenty percent of my time on employee development as a whole, but it certainly is a worthy goal. Too frequently I get hung up in the day-to-day and don’t realize that it is the employees that do the work. The more they develop and improve, the better off we all are. I don’t spend nearly enough time training my backup either. I know that training a back-up strengthens the organization, but it also makes it easier for me to make a move.

I certainly recognize the importance of spending time on leadership development. Frankly, I wish I had some additional coaching. It’s not easy being a front line leader. I’ve found that going to a manager for help is often perceived as a weakness, so many times I just go it alone.

For more on Leadership Development check out this post reviewing Leaders at all Levels by Ram Charan, co-author of Execution.

Tom Peters – “Brand You”

3 March, 2008 (23:19) | Leadership Development, Personal Development, Training | By: Administrator

In his book, Talent, Tom Peters exhorts the readers to create their own personal brand — their “Brand You.” We are free agents in the knowledge economy — no longer slaves of the cubicle.

He includes an exercise called the “Personal Brand Equity Evaluation,” which is made up of the following sections:

  • I am known for…
  • Next year at this time I will also be known for…
  • My current project is challenging me in these ways…
  • New things I’ve learned in the last 90 days include…
  • My public “recognition program” consists of…
  • Additions to my Rolodex in the last 90 days include…
  • My resume today is discernibly different from my resume last year at this time in these ways…

Joe and Wanda, care to comment?

Joe Kerr: Listen, I manage people. I lead people. I know all there is to know about that. There’s nothing new under the sun. Nothing’s changed since I started out, and nothing will. People are people. Regardless of the industry… regardless of the technology, management is all about getting people to do what you want them to do. It’s what I do best. I don’t see a need to “re-invent” myself every year.

Wanda B. Goode: It is very important that we continue to learn new things. It increases our value to our organization as well as in the marketplace. It’s our insurance policy in a world where no one job or employer provides security. Answering the above list of items and revisiting it frequently seems like a good way to encourage and track learning and growth.

For more on “Brand You” Check out this blog post.