by Astrid Kleinhanns-Rollé
Nowadays, having a hands-on mentality is more important than ever before. It is no coincidence that the term “management” can be traced back to Latin manus, “hand”, and agere, “to lead by the hand”. In everyday business life, decisiveness, courage and flexibility often matter more than great visions and solutions that are 120% guaranteed to work. When it comes to management, there are sophisticated strategies and long-term visions galore. Frequently, however, something else makes all the difference between success and failure, namely putting theory into practice, i.e. one's daily work. In everyday business life, common sense, assertiveness, decisiveness and courage - for instance to acknowledge one's mistakes - are at least as important as technical know-how. “Those who tackle management with the right hands-on mentality are definitely at an advantage in today's fast-moving world,” says Dr. Astrid Kleinhanns-Rollé, Managing Director of the WU Executive Academy. Managers should not be afraid of bringing their personality, including their rough edges, to the job.
Drawing on her considerable experience in working with international executives and globally active businesses, the WU Executive Academy's managing director has put together the following checklist to help you achieve long-term management success:
In most companies, there is an incredible wealth of ideas and visons. That said, management professionals need to keep one thing in mind: Great visions alone are useless. You also need to create an environment conducive to making them a reality. Transformation and change cannot happen unless you make room for both, visions and their implementation. Asking the right questions is very helpful in this context: What resources do I have to provide? Are our internal structures and our corporate culture such that change is possible at all? Where is our focus and what are our priorities? What about communication - is there a clear distribution of roles? And: Are we able to reach out to clients in a targeted manner, or are we off target?
Given the wealth of data available today and the complexity of interdependencies, you may be tempted to take your time when it comes to making decisions. But is it really a good idea to waste several days or even weeks before deciding what to do? There is research evidence that in recent years intuition has regained importance as a key component of decision-making—precisely because the business world has become more complex.
We all know how good it feels when, at the end of the day, you leave the office knowing you have squared away the bulk of your e-mail messages and most of the tasks on your to-do list. However, in the long run, this will turn out to be a flawed strategy because you never leave the realm of micro management. When it comes to achieving executive success, it is much more important to make the right strategic decisions for the company, to refrain from interfering in other people's business and to throw that predilection for detail overboard.
Gone are the days of the glamorous corporate boss endowed with twice the usual amount of self-confidence. Success is invariably the sum total of what people achieve as a team. Hence, management professionals should start with themselves: Management is not about gaining individual advantages but about ensuring that those who make a contribution, however small, to success benefit from it. That is the first step towards meaningful change. So, give the opinions of others serious consideration, be appreciative and do not hesitate to delegate.
In theory, the strategy gets implemented perfectly - but only in theory. Those who lose themselves in details and keep tinkering around until the target can be reached down to the fourth decimal may end up making life needlessly difficult for themselves and others. As far as achieving management success is concerned, it is sometimes better to be a little less perfect. “And not having to constantly prove yourself a perfectionist can also be advantageous when it comes to leading employees,” says Kleinhanns-Rollé.
Provided you make the right ones, that is. In other words, mistakes allowing you to learn important lessons, and not mistakes resulting from carelessness. It may sound odd, but making mistakes is a sine qua non for successful management.Several successful managers and entrepreneurs are living proof that failure - both on a small scale and on a large scale - is just part and parcel of it all and makes you better.
If you learn something from your mistakes, you will get better. Also, given that the realities of today's business world are rapidly evolving, you constantly have to try out new approaches and make adjustments if necessary - rapid prototyping is the name of the game in this context.
Habits and routines may be tempting. After all, they give a feeling of being in control amid the hectic pace of everyday business life. But if you never leave your comfort zone, you run the risk of being driven out of it pretty quickly. Digitalization is turning more and more business models upside down—and many a business fail because management is reluctant to change itself and the company. So: Be proactive and venture out into the unknown.
“Whenever I hear this phrase it reminds me of a friend of mine,” says Kleinhanns-Rollé. “He is a multiple entrepreneur, and an incredibly successful one at that. His philosophy is: Do not surround yourself with people who are like you (“mini me”) but with those capable of doing things better than you or of doing something you cannot do. His strength is to see the “big picture”, identify opportunities and capitalize on them.” This is not something you achieve by going it alone, though; it requires a team where each and every one puts his or her individual strengths and skills to good use for the benefit of everybody else.
In the MBA programs of the WU Executive Academy the participants learn how successful management works. For more information, please click here.