What do business leaders really want from their managers? Is it their experience, knowledge and technical expertise?
These things are important to business leaders when they recruit people into management positions. However, as LEAP MD Mike Gaffney explains, what leaders really want from managers more than anything else is for them to take ownership of the role of manager. That means making decisions, fully committing to them and taking responsibility for outcomes.
The number one requirement that leaders want from managers is for managers to take ownership for their area of responsibility. That means making decisions, dealing with the problems in their area and generally getting on with the job and delivering on their department’s objectives.
They want managers to stop looking over their shoulder waiting for approval or permission to make decisions.
There is an old saying that many leaders and managers are familiar with that goes ‘seek forgiveness rather than ask for permission.’ It’s vital to be decisive in your role as manager. Make a decision, look for the best outcome and if it works out great. Make sure you are able to explain why it worked out so it can be replicated.
If it doesn’t work out, dust yourself down and get on with the job because that’s your responsibility.
Commit to your decisions
So ownership is by far the biggest requirement leaders are looking for from their managers, but decisiveness is also a crucial factor. Another key element leaders look for is commitment. This simply means following through on decisions and ensuring that others in the team do the same until company objectives are met.
If managers take ownership of their area, and are prepared to make clear decisions and fully commit to them, then leaders can focus more of their time on doing what they do best – leading the business.
So the message for managers is clear: take ownership, make decisions and fully commit to them.
What if I as a manager make a decision and it turns out to be the wrong one?
If the decision goes wrong for the manager, it might cause problems and tempers may get frayed because of it. However, you are actually delivering on what you were hired to do. You were hired to take responsibility for a particular area of the business, to make it work as best you could.
If you don’t take ownership or you can’t make decisions then you are not managing.
You might get into hot water from time to time but when things cool down, the smart business owner will realise that you took ownership and you were decisive and you fully committed to your decision. They can see you are doing your best as a manager. That shows you take responsibility for your actions and that is something they can respect.
What they cannot respect is a lack of responsibility or ownership of decisions and outcomes.
So managers should be prepared to make decisions rather than asking the business owner for permission all the time. The outcomes may reveal that the role was beyond you and your capabilities but it won’t be because of a lack of commitment or indecision on your part.
Interview by Des Kirby
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