How do you measure success?
This is a question that’s been discussed so very often in various settings? Do we mean successful in life in general? Successful in output and production? Successful in prosperity? Health? Financial abundance? Happiness?
So many choices. Yet when we consider what success means in business terms, we often fall back on the common business criteria used to judge successful enterprises.
I was discussing this with someone I would consider successful in business only a week or two ago. A multi-million pound turnover company in London was using our services to help them improve their emotional intelligence among their executives and senior managers. I asked him why he thought it was necessary to invest in such an area.
His answer was intriguing. After covering the usual ideas that many consider a successful company to be judged by, he said ‘The real way I will judge the success of the program will be how our managers feel at the end of it, and a year or two later’.
So, his criteria for success was how people will feel about themselves and their business after it’s finished.
One discussion point we had was how he felt some of the managers didn’t understand the effect some things they say had on their team members. I asked him to elaborate.
He mentioned that often people would come out of an hour-long meeting and discuss (for a long time afterward) just one sentence that was said by one manager. Words make a big impression on people and they often don’t realise how deep the feelings can go.
Here, then, is my take on 7 things successful managers should never say. Or if they do, they must take the consequences for the effects they have:
1) “Just Do It!” It may have made Nike billions of dollars but it doesn’t help convince anybody of the reasons it should be done. Even if you feel frustrated or exasperated by the current situation, be more sympathetic to what the feelings of the other people are and what you want them to feel.
2) “Other people can do it…why can’t you?” This smacks of the ‘parent-child’ relationship that many managers take into adulthood. They think that by treating the person as a child, they will miraculously change their talent and skill level and actual are able to complete the task that was previously beyond them. Instead, they identify what really needs to be done and then coach the person to achieve the ideal result.
3) “Trust me” Erm, sorry, this smacks of desperation. If you have to actually request someone to trust you, rather than getting them to trust you through your actions and attitudes, then you’ve probably lost them anyway.
4) “Do me a favour and get this done!” Proper leadership isn’t about asking for favours. It’s about getting people to WANT to achieve goals by carrying out the tasks that will drive the business forward willingly, with passion and creativity.
5) “No-one can do this as well as I can…so I’d better do it myself” This may actually be a factual statement, i.e. it might be right. But it speaks volumes about your management style more than anything else. What it states is that I haven’t got the inclination to coach someone else to help me achieve this, so I’ll prove to everyone how good I am and do it all myself. The fact that you spend an average of 13 hours a day at the office doesn’t hit home. No…your insecurities are well-served by showing how indispensable you are.
6) “If you don’t come in early and stay late, you’re not committed” So, you’re measuring a person’s commitment by how much time they actually spend in the workplace. Even though they may be bored stiff and not really achieving anything, the fact they are there makes you think they are committed to you and the business. Instead, how about measuring their output and quality during the working hours? Commitment should be measured by how dedicated they are to getting the results you require, rather than how many hours they do on the job.
7) “I just can’t motivate my staff” Motivation is a subject close to everyone’s heart. But when you think you have the ability to motivate everyone in the team, you run the risk of trying to control that which is outside your sphere of influence. the fact is you can’t motivate anyone else. What you can do is encourage people, enthuse them and provide opportunities for them to motivate themselves. Thinking you can throw money at a problem or get people motivated by rah-rah talks and your own charisma is missing the point. Get people to recognise their own motivations, help them achieve the goals that drive them forward, and you’ll see the motivation in your team members soar.
So, seven points that you won’t hear successful managers say. I’m looking forward to making sure our client in London identifies how his executive team measure up against these success factors!
Head of Training
Originally published: 9 April, 2014