Cool idea, from here:
By placing myself in the center of everything, my leadership was like the middle pole of a merry-go-round. There was plenty of action and excitement revolving around me—and the illusion of movement—but we were firmly planted in one spot the whole time, going around in circles. Here’s how I learned to stop the ride and start moving forward.
Yep. Management is essentially the opposite of intuitive, because you become a manager and often want to control — which can seem like a synonym for ‘manage’ — everything under you, when in reality you should be getting out of the way and letting people do their jobs. It’s not that complicated to understand, but a lot of people still miss it.
Here’s what the author of the first linked article says is a good litmus test for how you are as a manager/leader:
I prefer the slightly less morbid “vacation test”: If you as a leader were to leave for a two-week vacation and not check your email even once, would your company have the team, processes, and values in place to move forward without you weighing in, rather than just staying in place and out of harm’s way until you get back?
Interesting thing is, I once worked with a guy — no joke — who would take vacations and basically tell his team not to do anything until he got back. Finally someone said, “Well, why don’t we take vacations at the same time as you, then? Wouldn’t that be logical?” And he’s like, “Gah! No! I need people back at the office. P.S. Just don’t do anything.” That’s a legitimate human being making a good wage and probably trusted by his superiors. You know what that is? Fucked up.
One of the ideas here is that managers should “fire themselves,” as explained by Joe Kraus of Google Ventures in this post:
All CEOs, founding or not, have a center of gravity. It can be sales, product, engineering, marketing, finance, etc. It’s the place they feel most comfortable, most grounded. It’s where they grew up in their career, or if they haven’t had much of one yet, it’s the place where they feel they have insight or instinct.
At the start of a company’s life, founding CEOs are often also doing the jobs of other “skill” positions (being the head of product, for example). But, inertia is a very powerful force. It’s very easy to just keep doing what you were doing. If you were a coder in the early part of your company’s life, it’s easy to just keep coding. If you were a product person in the beginning, it’s easy to stay deeply involved in product.
The error I see, far too often, is that founding CEOs do these skill positions way too long and don’t recognize the cost to the organization.
This also isn’t that complicated — people are scared of being incompetent, or viewed as incompetent. So they tend to stay close to the area/thing they know. This, combined with wanting a hand in everything (the things they don’t know but need to manage), can create this Merry-Go-Round effect. It’s not good. It’s something to actively avoid.
Basically: find good people, or find serviceable people and coach them up to being good/great. Then empower them to run their areas, do their job, and find new ideas as they go. You coach and empathize and develop, and that’s what makes a great manager/leader.
Phrased another way: we always think jobs, and especially managing, is about hitting quotas, targets, deliverables, numbers, etc. It’s not. Managing/leading is about maintaining the energy of a group of people towards the ability to hit those numbers people want to see. It’s not about the numbers; it’s about the people and the process of those people coming together to get to those targets.