Saturday, May 18, 2013

Leadership and Mangement -vs- Married with Children

I've often told others that being a good leader or manager is not much different than being a good spouse or parent.  Often those in a position of authority confuse their position power with leadership.  They believe that because they were put in their position, they can just order their subordinates about and they should just follow without questioning.  Well try that with your spouse or your children and see how far that gets you?  If you use fear and intimidation with your spouse your marriage probably won't last; if you use that with your children they'll grow to resent you and become alienated from you.  Let me give you some examples:

Bad leader/manager: "I'm the manager and in a position of authority around here, my subordinates should just do what I tell them without questioning or else heads are going to roll !@#$%!"  Bob you lazy !@#$%^& I thought I told you to have that update on the XYZ project on my desk this morning.  This worthless team is so far behind on the XYZ project; I'm going to fire every !@#$%^ one of them if they don't start making progress!  I think I'll give them all poor reviews this year and no one's getting a raise.  Lazy !@#$%^!  (Management by fear and intimidation)

Bad spouse/parent: "!@#$%^ Jane, I bust my a** all day at work and the least thing you could do is have !@#$% dinner ready when I get home!  Billy I thought I told you to mow the !@#$%^ lawn today; get your lazy a** out there right now and mow that !@#$%^ lawn!  Suzie I thought I told you to clean up around here !@#$%^&; you lazy good-for-nothing !@#$%^!  You're just like your good-for-nothing mother!" (Management by fear and intimidation)

Good Leader/Manager: "I'm so thankful to have a great team to work with; I hope they all had a good evening.  Traffic was a nightmare this morning.  I'm a little hungry, I forgot to eat breakfast.  Bob looks a bit distressed, and he didn't get that update to me this morning like I asked him to.  I should talk with him latter on after I've had a snack and some coffee.  Maybe he's having problems that I'm not aware of?  We're really running behind schedule on the XYZ project, I'll schedule a meeting with my team latter on in order to understand the problems they face.  Maybe the schedule was a bit too aggressive or maybe they're running into some other roadblocks that I can help remove. What can I do today to help my colleagues succeed?"  (Servant Leadership/Management)

Good Spouse/Parent: "I love my spouse and children; I'm so grateful to be able to work and provide for their needs.  Traffic was a nightmare today.  Man I'm so hungry, I didn't have time to eat lunch today.  Billy didn't mow the lawn again like I asked him to; I'll talk with him about it later on after I've had time to relax.  Maybe he has some problems at school.  Jane didn't cook dinner either and Suzie didn't clean up again.  Oh well, I'll just order out for some Chinese and over dinner we'll talk things over.  Maybe they're overwhelmed with problems at school or work.  What can I do today to help my family succeed?" (Servant Leadership/Management)

There are good leaders/managers and good spouses/parents just like there are bad leaders/managers and bad spouses/parents.  Who do you think is more effective in the long-run?  In the short-term using fear and intimidation will get you results, but in the long-run all it gets you is anger, resentment, lower productivity, and ultimately failure.  Treating your subordinates, colleagues, team-mates, spouses, and children with the love, respect, and understanding they deserve will get you admiration, loyalty, higher productivity, and ultimately success.  If you don't believe me, then pay attention to what happens to a dysfunctional/hostile working environment or a dysfunctional/hostile family.  The results are pretty much the same.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What does it mean to give 110%

What does it mean to give 110%
by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.

On jet aircraft the military rates the engines at 80% of their maximum peak power to preserve longevity. It is often referred to as continuous or rated power.  Full military power is actually 110% of the rated power of 80% which is 88% of maximum peak power.  Otherwise they'll run an extremely high risk of damage to the jet engine.

The Army applies this principle of sustained effort to their soldiers as well.  They know they can't push their soldiers at 110% for long periods of time without permanent damage.  Wars can only be sustained with fresh troops.  The candle that burns twice as bright only burns half as long.  Giving 110% has often been misinterpreted as giving more than the maximum when in fact all they are doing is operating at 88% of the maximum peak power. 

When applied to people you should think in terms of a person's sustainable output versus their maximum output.  Maximum output is ALL that a person is capable of producing without regard for how long they can keep it up.  Think of it as a marathon runner as opposed to a sprinter: the marathon runner can run 26 miles at a reasonable pace while the sprinter can only run short distances at a very fast pace.

I once worked for a company that figured out it was cheaper to have their employees consistently work over-time rather than hire more people.  If you work 40 hours in a week, then that comes out to be 2080 working hours in a year.  Now subtract 10 paid holidays a year (80 hours) and 2 to 4 weeks of vacation every year (80 to 160 hours) and your now down to 1920 to 1840 working hours a year.

While working for them, I would typically HAVE TO work close to 3000 hours a year, which came out to be 50 to 60 hours a week.  Sure I earned a lot of money, but eventually I got burned out and my mental and physical health really suffered.  After years of that I finally came to realize that all the money in the world won't do you a bit of good if you don't live to enjoy it.  Eventually, I quit and found a less stressful job.

The lesson here is that good employers are more concerned with the sustainable, long-term efforts of their employees rather than their unsustainable, short-term efforts.  Numerous academic studies have confirmed that any attempt to conistently work more than 40 hours in a week reduces productivity.  If you keep asking your employees to give 110% or more, eventually you'll run the risk of permanent damage just like a jet engine.

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