Sep 14, 2023

A Proven Approach to Transform Reactive Managers into Leaders

A Proven Approach to Transform Reactive Managers into Leaders

A Proven Approach to Transform Reactive Managers into Leaders

Nathan King

The manager's life is not her own.

Subordinates have a claim on the manager. The manager must direct them, answer their questions, and hold them accountable, ensuring their actions align with her own initiatives.

Departments across the organization require the manager to understand numerous policies, requests, and synthesize competing initiatives with hers.

External stakeholders hold sway over the manager. Customers, suppliers, regulatory bodies all require attention and apply influence.

And the organization's leadership make demands on the manger. The direct leader, other senior figures in the organization, and often the board influence the manager.

And these stakeholders only represent work. Numerous interests and responsibilities occupy the manager's time and energy outside of the organization.

The life of a manager is defined by obligations.

Navigating this cloud of often competing obligations easily overwhelms many managers.

Overwhelmed managers disappear. They resign to a life of endless meetings and inbox management. A life of busy-ness protects them from confronting the chaos of their world.

But a reactive life doesn't help the organization, and doesn't cause career results.

The manager needs a map.

The manager's task is to master three dimensions:

  1. Emotional, energetic, even moral investment in the organization.

  2. Full awareness and intentional direction of the the self.

  3. Making sense of the organization and her role in it to set aside past and future in order to harness the present.

Invest in the Organization

The manager is a part of something bigger – an organization that was going before the manager joined. And in all probability, the organization will continue to run after the manager departs. So first, the manager accepts authority from a larger system.

The manager must understand the system, what it is in service to, and the obstacles and opportunities that get in its way.

Understand the Self

The manager must understand and develop her own way. She can't merely accept the organization as a generator of meetings and tasks. In light of her experience, gifting, and skill, she has to fit within and shape without the organization's direction.

Understand Time

Combining the organization and understanding the self result in significant discernment and insight, which must be put to use. Time is the medium in which the manager contributes to results that advances the organization.

The manager's unique situation, combined with the organization's own demands and needs, all plays out in an ever flowing, changing reality, which is time.

The manager can see and make sense of the past and speculate about and plan for the future. Isn't it fascinating that past and present are concrete, but the present moment is intangible, often unnoticeable? The manager uses the present by acting.

We've all met the manager who doesn't act: always planning, discussing what could be next, analyzing spreadsheet after spreadsheet.

But the most fundamental obligation of the manager is to act.

The manager needs to understand the past, and appreciate the future, but through discernment, apply both past and future to a firm position now. The manager must act. It's the fundamental obligation.

Assess Yourself

The needs of the organization, the manager's understand of herself and her place in the organization, and the fluid reality of time all combine to an imperfect environment where the manager has work to do.

No matter how effective the manager, something in each of these areas requires development.

For you, do you need greater self awareness, a better sense of what your organization is about, or a more impactful way of utilizing time?

Choose the category, and then name the task. What step can you take to improve in that area?




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© King Strategic Consulting, LLC 2023