5 Attributes of Successful Managers

This is the second (of three) blog posts regarding things I learned from Kevin O’Leary’s presentation at a recent industry conference. The first post dealt with creating a successful pitch. This post is about becoming a successful manager. While Kevin mentioned several attributes of successful managers, I focus on five that I believe are applicable in many aspects of life.

We are all managers in some aspect – whether we run a business, manage employees or manage a family, we can learn from these attributes to become a better boss, parent and friend. Take a moment to ponder how these attributes can help you in your personal life.

1. Clear Line of Command

Where does the buck stop? What are you accountable for? Who is accountable for what? If something is not going right, where should someone turn to remedy the situation? Many take responsibility with only lip service; few take personal inventory to see how to improve going forward. Sometimes we take full responsibility of the situation while simultaneously pointing the finger at others. Politicians are good at that.

The line of command is often ambiguous, and may be set up that way on purpose. This obscures accountability and ensures that the buck doesn’t stop with anyone in particular. Without accountability and ownership, it’s difficult to run a well functioning organization/family.

2. Set Measurable and Attainable Goals

We can’t be accountable if we don’t have realistic goals. Our aversion to failure discourages goal setting. Yet, we learn more from our failures than from our successes. We need goals to signal failures (or undesirable outcomes) so we know where to focus our attention and make adjustments. Few successes happen the first time. Failing and adjusting are inherent elements found on the journey to success.

3. Be Accessible to Key Employees

“If you ever need me, call xxxx.” Let key employees/family members know that they come first. You are willing to drop whatever you are in the middle of to help them in a crisis. They often won’t call as crises don’t happen all the time, but knowing they can get a hold of you will provide them with confidence that you have their back as they tackle their projects and challenges.

4. Time Management Skills

Most of us have more to accomplish in a day than we have time or energy for. What is most important for you to accomplish today? This is prioritizing. We often make excuses when something doesn’t get done – and we have plenty to choose from. But it really comes down to prioritizing our to do list. Each day, create a list of three things you must accomplish, and then get them done. If you can accomplish additional tasks, great. If not, at least you will have accomplished your most pressing needs.

5. Service Trumps Everything

Service takes time, it takes effort. Service requires your attention. Whether you are servicing a customer, a loved one or someone you have never met – people don’t care about what you have to say (or sell) until they feel you care. And service is the fruit of caring. Kevin mentioned that service is the key to protecting your margins. He was referring to financial margins, but it could also be applied much more broadly – I suggest increasing the service you provide to increase your “personal” margins (i.e. relationships).