Here are 15 Management Provocations for you to contemplate as we approach 2009:
1. Manage Fear and Find Happiness – Have an ear for fear and an eye for anxiety in yourself and the people you manage. What role does fear play in management and how do you manage fear? What is the impact of fear on performance and performance feedback? Can we lessen fear with the new currency of authentic happiness and positive psychology? (Resource: www.authentichappiness.org)
2. Weave Paradox and Improvisation with Strategy and Planning into Management – Can you embrace positive uncertainty and work with ambiguity, uncertainty, and complexity? Can you slide between strategy and improvisation? Keep asking yourself…What comes next?(Resources: H.B. Gelatt, Positive Uncertainty and Patricia Madson, Improv Wisdom)
3. Connect community while creating conversation – Have you succeeded in ensuring your organization is a community? What is the role of community and how does it change the role of managers? Overcome distance and disconnection through community. What is your comfort and competence level with a co-created workplace? (Resource: James Cherkoff & Johnnie Moore, Change This Manifesto, Co-Creation Rules)
4. Achieve brand new management by wedding strength with value to others – Quickly what are your top 5 strengths? When was the last specific time you used each as a manager? Who knows about your strengths? How do they know this? What is your personal management brand – the strengths you have that create value for others? (Resources; Marcus Buckingham, Go Put Your Strengths to Work and Dave Ulrich & Norm Smallwood, Leadership Brand)
5. Embrace your ignorance – What don’t you know? How often do you feel compelled to use an expert model when an ignorant model might work better? Ignorance simply means not knowing. Stupidity on the other hand, is thinking you know when you don’t. It is okay to be ignorant, just don’t be stupid about it. In the 1960’s Marshall McLuhan said in the future we would learn a living versus earn a living – what living are you learning now? Ignorance is where we start, we don’t have to stay there. Are you comfortable dwelling in the Age of Ask? (Resource: Richard Saul Wurman, Information Anxiety 2)
6. Leverage social media within the new workplace – How do we work with social media (blogs, wikis, instant video, etc.) and work with employees who have embraced social media? What are the potentials and pitfalls? How have the social media tools shaped our offline work and our ways of working? (Resource: Clay Shirky,: Here Comes Everybody)
7. Engage yourself and others – How engaged are you at work? How do you work with disengaged workers? What are the benefits and practices of engagement? Is engagement just a new term for motivational carrots and sticks? (Resource: David Zinger, Employee Engagement Zingers, www.davidzinger.com)
8. Tell stories more than once upon a time – How do we understand and use story in our workplaces from a six word management story to a 50 word case study? Do we overlook facts because of stories? What metaphors are you using and the people you manage using to explain and understand work? (Resource: Jim Loehr, The Power of Story)
9. Dwell in permeable categories – What categories do you use to understand others and how do they serve or not serve you? Do you focus on generations, psychological types, or leaders versus managers? If we need to categorize how do we make if helpful and healthy? (Resource: Wikipedia, Conceptual metaphor)
10. Rethink IT – We often refer to IT as information technology but the bigger IT faced by managers and organizations is Integrity and Trust. How do we maintain the bedrocks of management…authentic integrity and trust? (Resource: Tracy Heibeck, Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World)
11. Expand, enhance, and renew energy – How do you gather the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual energy for work? How do you consciously elevate the energy of the people you lead? How do we contribute to organizational energy? (Resource: Jane Dutton, Energize Your Workplace)
12. Live your legacy – Spiritual focus as a manager is not limited to religion. It means something greater than yourself. How comfortable and confident are you with the spiritual elements of work? Do you see it as some fluffy extra or a central component of meaningful work? When your work is done, what will you leave behind? (Resource: You and beyond…)
13. Weld brains through social intelligence – How do our brains impact the people we lead? What do neurons – mirror neurons, spindle cells, and oscillators have to do with management? Does social neurobiology really have something to teach managers? (Resource: Daniel Goleman, The Biology of Leadership, HBR September 2008)
14. Infuse influence – When command and control withered away how do we still get or “let” people do the work required? How can we be accountable when we are not responsible? What are your influence tools? Are you checking in with people or checking up on people? (Resource: Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, & Andrew Shimberg, How to Have Influence, MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2008).
15. What comes next?….
I voiced these management provocations at Lisa Haneberg’s Developing Great Managers course in Washington DC this week. This was a wonderful 2 day course sponsored at the American Society for Training and Development on how managers can develop power hours of training. I want to thank both Lisa and ASTD for inviting me to be a part of such a timely and helpful course.