Partner of Albright, O’Malley & Brenner
BUILD, FIND, OR BE A GREAT MANAGER
If you could build the ultimate Operations Manager, Program Director – or even General Manager – from scratch, what qualities would you absolutely want him or her to have to lead your team?
Putting your thoughts into a paragraph might look something like this:
It will be someone who believes in analytics and does not merely agree to go along with the process. It will be someone who has a collaborative spirit, who is perceived as superb at tying the various departments…together and forging trust…It will be someone who …will handle the pressures of the job without portraying it in scrunched face and curt answers and quick fury…
Sounds good, yes?
Actually these are excerpts from a piece NY Post sports columnist Joel Sherman wrote on the attributes the New York Yankees might hope to find in coach/manager to replace Joe Girardi.
But what a baseball team is looking for in a manager might just be what you are wanting too.
Having been a part of more than a few talent and management searches over the years, finding all these qualities in a single individual can be challenging.
However, in deconstructing the list, there is a common denominator: the ability to communicate. In fact, when it comes to hiring the right team leader, baseball General Managers agree: the ability to communicate is paramount.
In his book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers, author Chris Jaffe referenced a comment from former Cleveland Indian General Manager now President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays Mark Shapiro . According to Jaffe, Shapiro said the three most important characteristics for a manager are
2) self-awareness and
3) the ability to prioritize.
Jaffe also wrote, “The manager should be able to handle his charges in a way that ensures they produce as much as they are capable of… A manager can prod one player, challenge another, baby a third and leave the fourth entirely alone…”
Anyone who has successfully managed people in pretty much any industry has likely learned from experience that “one size doesn’t fit all.”
Bill Cole , founder and CEO of California’s William B. Cole Consultants summarized the qualities that “distinguished the great from the very good.” These were
1) caring about people
2) having extremely high standards and goals, and
3) possessing a “high level of self-knowledge.”
“Expert coaches work on themselves unceasingly.” Cole continues. “They are open to new ideas and philosophies. They study coaching seriously and take coaching seriously. They care about the person across from them.
That’s what it’s all about anyhow, isn’t it? Helping people?”
If you’re currently a manager, looking for or are a manager, or aspire to be a manager, draft a list of qualities that are important in your situation starting with some of criteria above.
You might be tempted to argue that analytics is a communication exception. But the ability to distill ratings, research, sales and marketing data into “human speak” that fosters understanding, embracing, and taking action indeed requires excellent communication skills.
Take a look at your list. Then, and this is the hard part if you’re working on being a better manager, do some significant self-evaluation.
What are you best at? What communication skills could you learn or improve upon that would make you even better at your job? Who on your team would benefit from your coaching?
Ask similar questions if you’re looking to help someone improve.
And if you’re looking for a new leader, adjust the questions slightly: What skills are needed most? What areas must be improved? What style of communication would bring out the best in your team?
Let me know how it goes.
And of course we can always talk baseball.