"Frank's skill in asking the right questions is un-mistakable, and is at the core of his leadership philosophy.

The power of these questions cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to lead and not manage."
—John Cave
Westhaven Worldwide Logistics

If not otherwise stated—all postings © Frank D. Kanu. All rights reserved.

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Stop Telling... Start Leading!

Ignore the Different Personalities in the Team

Every year at the beginning of the (insert your favorite sport here) season there are all sorts of prognostications about that one team that’s destined to win it all. Why will this team be victorious? Because of all the talent it’s bought. Yet time and again these dream teams don’t live up to their expectations, and often they get defeated by some underdog.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Throw together a few folks with good reputations and turn them into a dream team—and they’ll be sure to succeed. In fact, many of these teams fare no better than those “winning” sports teams.

    Successful teams do have talented members—but those members understand each other and draw from each other’s strengths. If you’re ambitious and you want to see this in action, join a volunteer fire department as active fire fighter. By necessity you’ll bond with your team members, and your understanding of teams will change.

Can you describe the personality of each team member?

Do you know what makes them tick?

Do you know how to push their buttons?


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I’m Too Busy Right Now…

We’ve all heard it; and we know it only means we are not a priority right now. While it might be funny in the movies when the hero says he can’t deliver the marriage proposal because he’s “too busy,” it’s not funny in business. In fact, it can be a real killer!

    Of course there are always situations when the goals of the business and the goals of the team members do not match. Especially lower ranked managers are sitting between the chairs. Neither being an iron man nor hard nose nor everybody’s darling leads the business to the desired success. Business and personal goals have to be in harmony.

Who do you please?

And if you please - how do you please?

Are you being used by the team to please them?

Then there is the well known variant:

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Laid Back / Let Them Do It…

“Don’t come to me with a problem if you don’t have the solution!” This is a big bunch of baloney. Not even the most talented staffer will be able to live up to this—at least, not all the time. Besides, a staffer who has all the answers ought to be a manager, right?

    Just imagine you sell cars for a living and one of the models you are trying to sell always fails. So you go to your manager to talk about this dilemma. Would your manager expect you to know how to engineer a better model? You might have a few thoughts to share—but a complete overhaul?

    Ever heard the claim, “My company doesn’t have any problems”? Of course there are problems—even in the best companies! Why doesn’t this manager know that there are any? Isn’t he in control? A trust company in Germany laid off all its German/English translators; according to their management, “everyone learns English in school.” Besides, there were enough bilingual people in the office. A few months later the company had to rehire the translators. What happened? The trust lost the bid for a huge project because of errors in the contract. A typical blunder was the phrase “river diagram” instead of “flow chart diagram.” Do you think this is a sign of a management in control?

Are you in control?

Can you gain and keep control?

Do you know some of the problems?

Do you know how to address the problems?

Are you addressing them?


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Making Money Is Important.

It’s a simple concept: either the company makes money or goes out of business. This is even true for charities and the government! This is very often overlooked because the ways you run a profitable business, a charity, or a country are different. Nonetheless they all have to make sure of the needed funding and encourage the customers/donors/citizens to buy them.

Is making money important for your business?

Are you making money?

Pressing the Budget Too Tight

    When you begin with unrealistic budget goals, chaos is bound to set in. Departments fall behind, resources are slow to arrive, and ultimately missions run off the road. The easiest way to avoid having this happen is to create an accurate budget. That means outlining ways to implement better upfront resource planning.

    Let me add that it’s wrong to meet cost savings with potentially punitive measures. What I mean is the old adage “If you don’t spend your whole budget this year, you’ll get less next year” mindset. If a department has saved money and come in under budget, why not consider giving part of those savings back in the form of bonuses? The upfront cost will be offset by higher productivity, and more cost conscious employees.

Do you have a budget?

Do you review it constantly?

Are employees cost conscious?


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Instead of Delegating You Do Everything Yourself

Management by objectives external and management by delegation external go hand in hand. Is there a need for an employee when the manager does everything? Well, let’s think about it in different terms: can any manager dance at 50 weddings at the same time?

At how many weddings are you dancing?


    Certainly there will be times when the manager knows best how to do a specific task. But why not take the opportunity to teach the team? Delegation is good management, but it’s also a sign of leadership. Often you hear that managers cut their hours significantly once they learned how to delegate effectively. This gives them more time to concentrate on what managers should be thinking about.
“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.”
Chinese Proverb

Are you taking over tasks from the team or do you teach?

Do you delegate?

Do you consider delegating before you start a task?


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