Many CEO's have attained their management positions without any training or preparation.
Almost all the direct managers of employees that I have met (work managers, department managers, line managers, etc.) were promoted to their positions because they were good employees. They never received any training for their management positions and the company has enormous expectations of them. Perhaps surprisingly, at the apex of the managerial pyramid are more than a few CEO's who, themselves, never received managerial training. Usually, although not always, these are entrepreneurs who started a business that experienced success and growth.
All of a sudden, the entrepreneur must manage people, business and commercial activities, finances; they must cope with competition, changing markets, clients and suppliers and they have never received training for this.
But doesn't their success prove that the entrepreneur is also an excellent manager? Why would they require managerial training?
Whereas among direct managers there is more consensus that managerial training would help them (although regardless of a consensus – there is almost no training available), among CEO's this thinking is rare. Few CEO's will say that study or training would help them.
Particularly when the CEO and owner has established a business that is prospering, they will rely upon past success and will feel sure they have nothing to learn. To them it is clear that what was will also be in future.
Except that competition is increasing, clients demand higher quality, employees need to be motivated and a competitive advantage needs to be attained; markets are changing and demand a different type of action – all of these require a different kind of management.
What was can no longer guarantee what will be.
What are the characteristics required for successful managers?
A year ago, in September, and together with Anat Milner Cohen, I published a survey entitled "What are the character traits required for successful management?"
470 survey participants selected the four traits each of them felt were key to successful management. These four traits were selected from a list of 46 character traits we had suggested. In February of this year, we published the results of the survey along with their analysis.
The trait "leads/charismatic" was selected as the most important trait in every categorization we examined (men/women, age groups, independents/hired employees, private/state companies).
In contrast, "centralized manager", intervening manager", "strict manager" and "compromising manager" received no selections. In other words, not one of the participants in the entire group responding to the survey felt that any of these four traits were the traits most required by a successful manager.
Now, look around you and think of all the managers you have ever known. How many of these managers you know are also good leaders?
And how many managers do you know who are centralized, intervening, strict or compromising?
I'm guessing you'll experience the same insight I did: very few leaders are truly leaders and very many managers are either too centralized, intervene too much, are strict or compromise too much. So what does this say about the management profession?
Can this missing knowledge be acquired? Can one acquire the traits necessary for success and for coping with a changing reality?
The analysis of the survey results drew thousands of readers and many comments, primarily through my Facebook business page. One of the comments was "it's all nonsense, the main factor in successful management is luck".
Is that true? Is success only a result of luck?
Anat Milner Cohen's and my experience and familiarity with dozens of managers reveal otherwise.
Managerial skills can be acquired and certainly developed. Moreover, the skills for being a manager that is a leader as well as a mentor to employees and other managers in the organization can also be acquired.
Our space here for examination of this extensive subject is limited, but we can look at a few points:
What type of manager are you?
What percentage of your time do you dedicate to the following levels of management?
this involves problem-solving, ongoing management, conflict resolution, providing a response to any problem that may arise and doing the work yourselves.
this is a translation of the strategic program for objectives, defining measures, follow-up and control on attainment of company objectives through the measures, employee management and management of your organizational culture.
this involves the engagement in definition of company vision, understanding your surroundings, identifying strengths and weaknesses, sourcing opportunities and identifying threats, leading the work to attaining company vision and the objectives of the management body (department, division, company).
An accurate self-assessment of the percentage of time you dedicate to each level will enable you to change and improve your management habits.
We feel the necessary traits for a good manager are respectful communication, assertion, appreciation, positive feedback, work with objectives and measures, proper time management, proper meeting management, expansive thinking, responsibility to workers (as opposed to responsibility for workers) and, of course, trustworthiness and honesty.
All of these traits can be nurtured and developed.
Leadership can be developed.
Even if charisma may be a genetic trait, we can nurture and strengthen our natural charisma.
Let's consider for a moment what leadership is:
I adopt the Wikipedia definition: Leadership is the ability to lead other people towards a common goal with minimum authority.
Short and sweet.
Let's divide up this lovely definition into its components and examine what is required to be a manager who is also a leader:
Let's begin with the definition of a common goal: for this we require a long-term view, we must define a vision, identify and agree upon the organization's values.
To lead organizational management and employees towards a common goal with minimum authority, they must believe in you. Their trust in you begins with sharing and openness, useful communication, setting a personal example, your commitment to your workers, your authenticity. Being real, standing behind what you say and developing your workers' motivation.
Mentoring is empowerment of the other in one-on-one discourse. While a leader leads a group of people, a mentor acts in private. A manager who is also a mentor knows how to empower their management and employees, managing and guiding them in action towards organizational objectives and in accordance with organizational values. Daily mentoring at an organization requires speaking frankly, one-on-one meetings for question-based discourse, dealing with dilemmas and sharing in thinking and decision-making.
In a clip I saw on YouTube, Steve Jobs described discussions and colleagues at Apple. He was asked if he won every argument. To this he replied that there are excellent people at Apple, but if he were to win all the arguments, his colleagues would leave.
To be a manager who is also a mentor requires openness, desire to learn, and training.
When I managed one of Nestle Osem's major factories, I hired Erez Ingbar as a buyer. Sixteen years later, I met Erez when he was managing this same factory, which had grown and developed since then.
I truly enjoyed seeing how Erez actually implemented the tools of a mentoring manager and how he attained organizational objectives together with committed and motivated employees.
Summary: A manager who is both a leader and a mentor
A manager who is both a leader and a mentor is a manager who has reached the height of his/her managerial abilities and will lead the organization towards its objectives in an optimal manner.
The skills in being a good manager, leader and mentor are acquired skills.
I recommend to every manager to train themselves and, to CEO's in particular, to lead their organization's training by providing a personal example and developing their own personal skills.