Are you a Buzz Lightyear Manager?

Are you a Buzz Lightyear ManagerAs Leader and Manager in your organisations, you have the toughest job. You are expected to motivate, guide and help your team(s) as well as having a deep understanding of each member’s typical behaviours, attitudes and skill sets. That’s in addition to your day job!

For some (many) leading from the front, that also means fighting the voice in your head that may sound something like “I hired you to do the job, just do it!”, the sure fire way to torpedo your own Balance Sheet below the waterline.

So today as you hurtle through your business ‘fixing’ things, pause for a moment and ask yourself, what does the word “Leadership” actually mean? What would be your definition? Difficult isn’t it! How about this from Peter Drucker? – “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

When I come across a dysfunctional team (and I’ve worked within some of the worst as well as in my career creating a few of my own!), often its when an otherwise successful head of the business hasn’t acquired the understanding how to Manage their people. Or perhaps have the profile where its of no interest. ‘Inspiring’ can come naturally for some but for the employee it gets tedious watching individuals get away with poor performance just because the ‘Leader’ fails to grasp the nettle and actually ‘Manage’ their team. We can kid ourselves that a ‘Buzz Lightyear’ approach to Leadership will build a great business but it probably won’t on its own. There has to be more effort put in to ensure the good staff stay and grow alongside you.

Here’s a quick exercise: At a basic level, you may know the four hats we must wear to be effective leaders. Score yourself out of ’10’ against each one today:-

  • Coach ______ out of 10
  • Mentor ______ out of 10
  • Trainer ______ out of 10
  • Supervisor ______ out of 10

How did you do? 10’s across the board? Its more usual to score well on one, maybe two points but get a slightly lower score against others. Hold on a second, though, how well did you do differentiating between Coach & Mentor? That’s a tricky one for many so here’s some help:

  • Mentoring is where a manager shares wisdom(?) from their past experience. The pitfall for some perhaps is thinking they are coaching but actually under pressure they end up telling / directing based on experience or what they think was the right thing to do. You’ll know if you are doing this as you will regularly be owning all the decisions on a daily basis and take the worries home whilst paying all your staff the same wage for them not to.
  • Coaching is the behaviour & technique that takes more time and patience, helps people discover for themselves the correct outcome and has a longer lasting effect. (ahem…..may take some longer to achieve than others).

Considering this, does it change your scoring a little? Maybe not.

All employees have choice, they can CHOOSE to be either Productive or Non-Productive. They can also choose whether they are productive all the time or just as a ‘One-off’. Coaching is the Leader’s opportunity to help their employee’s discover the best choices to make. A Coach operates as an ‘Adult’, is non critical and nurtures their employee’s so that they make the right choices and if they elect not to, are aware of the consequences.

So coaching requires effort, skill, takes longer to effect and requires us to hold back with the answers. Undeniably, delivers the greatest results for longer effectiveness. Its easy to see then why ‘Buzz-Lightyear’ managers miss out.


Chris Davies

Chris Davies

Chris Davies has spent over 35 years in both sales and leadership environments with companies such as Sony, Toshiba, IBM and others. Observing first-hand the declining effects of traditional, much copied selling methodologies. Typically, Chris works with business leaders, partners and top producers who are ready to work smarter and commit their time, money and energy to attract new clients, sell more products or services and generate more profits with integrity. Tel: 01525 280777 Mobile: 07891 055925

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