What is management? How does a person manage? While researching information on patience and tolerance, I came across an article online about the Basics of Management. In the article, author F. John Reh says, “Management is both art and science. It is the art of making people more effective than they would have been without you. The science is in how you do that.” As I contemplated this definition, for some reason the phrase “beauty, brains and brawn” came to mind. I began thinking about these three words and how they relate to management and one’s ability to be a successful manager.
Beauty refers to image. To be a successful manager a well-received image is essential. Image arises from not only one’s physical appearance, but talents, personality and attitude. Laura Morgan Roberts, a professor at Harvard Business School, defines professional image as the “set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your key constituents.” Essentially, it is one’s behavior, their actions that create the image the manager projects to the individuals with whom he or she interacts or supervises. Some key management behaviors that impact that image include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Communication – Do I disseminate important information to my staff when needed? Do I use the right words, tone and attitude when communicating to those with whom I interact? Do I demonstrate through my body language a genuine interest in the questions or concerns others present to me? Do I seek to understand what I am being told before responding? Am I approachable?
- Ethics and Integrity – Am I honest and trustworthy when dealing with others? Do I accept responsibility for my actions and words and am I fair and consistent in holding accountable those I supervise for their actions and words?
- Commitment – Am I committed to helping the company achieve its goals and objectives? Do I follow company policies and procedures? Do I follow through on commitments?
- Acknowledgement/Recognition – Do I encourage and praise my employees when they perform at a level deserving recognition? Do I express gratitude to my employees?
- Teamwork – Do I effectively manage the relationships among my staff? Do I effectively relate to all individuals in the company, including field employees, corporate, vendors, etc? Do I strive to create a culture of collaboration and inclusion?
No manager is perfect. All managers have “bad hair days” at some point in their careers, days when they are faced with challenges that lead them to question whether they are executing their responsibilities at a level that has a positive effect on the performances of those they supervise. It is at these times that managers begin evaluating their images by asking questions related to various management behaviors and then begin to truly understand the importance of the beauty associated with successful management.
In 1900 the now classic novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum was published. One of the book’s central characters, the Scarecrow, believes he lacks a brain. When he meets up with Dorothy, he joins in her quest to find the wizard in hopes of gaining a brain. However, as the story progresses, we learn that the Scarecrow already has a brain; he just does not know it. He has not learned to recognize that the knowledge and talents he possesses are part of what makes up his brain. In the end, the Wizard, knowing that the Scarecrow already has a brain and is in fact probably the most intelligent of the group, pretends to give the Scarecrow a brain and appoints him ruler of Emerald City.
As managers, sometimes, we question whether we have the knowledge, skills and abilities to lead and supervise others, oversee important tasks or qualify to be “in charge.” Essentially, we adopt the Scarecrow persona and ask ourselves whether we have the brains to be doing what we have chosen to do. These types of thoughts can make or break a manager. How a manager responds to moments of doubt will determine his or her future success. If you are struggling, do not give up. Evaluate your situation. Ask yourself the following:
- Knowledge – What do I need to know to be an effective manager? What knowledge do I currently possess? What knowledge do I currently lack? What can I do to obtain the knowledge I need? Have I taken advantage of the learning opportunities available to me? Do I utilize the knowledge I possess and apply it in the right way?
- Past Experiences – Some would tell you to forget about the past and focus on the future. Only half of this is true. You should focus on the future but evaluate the past. Evaluate positive and negative past experiences and situations. What did I do right? What made it right? What did I do wrong? What made it wrong? What can I do to ensure similar situations don’t happen again? There is nothing wrong with remembering past mistakes. The key is not to let them happen again. For some people managing comes easy; it’s a natural thing for them. For others, management skills are developed over time through trial and error.
- Training – Share the knowledge you have with others. Give them a little bit of your brain. One of the key mistakes managers make is failing to properly train their employees. Take the time to give your employees the information they need to be successful.
As Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You know what you know. And you are the [one] who’ll decide where to go.”
At this point you may be asking yourself how “brawn” is related to management. The dictionary defines brawn as “strong, well-developed muscles; muscular strength.” The dictionary lists words such as robustness, sturdiness, might and power as synonyms for “brawn.” So, what does brawn have to do with management? The mind and the body are inextricably linked. How you feel physically affects both your mental and emotional strengths. While a certain amount of physical strength is needed to adequately fulfill required management duties and responsibilities, it’s the mental and emotional strengths that often impact one’s ability to successfully manage and inspire others to want to follow you. It is, as F. John Reh says, what makes “people more effective than they would have been without you.” Some of the key mental and emotional strengths all managers should cultivate include:
- Self-Confidence – When it comes to self-confidence, the number one question to ask is do I believe I can do it? Do I have the charisma? Do I believe in myself and do I project that onto others? Do I focus on the positive? Do I know and understand my talents and strengths? Do I utilize my talents and strengths to their full advantage? Do I know and understand my weaknesses? Do I desire to improve my weaknesses? Do I ask for assistance when needed?
- Power of Persuasion – One of the key elements of persuasion is knowledge; knowledge of the people you manage. Do I know and understand the people I work with? Do I know their strengths and weaknesses? A second key element to successful persuasion is personal character. Character consists of those individual distinct qualities that you possess. It includes a positive attitude, caring about the success of those you supervise, and being willing to do what they do. As ancient philosopher Aristotle once said, “Character may almost be the most effective means of persuasion.”
- Assertiveness – Do I communicate with the right tone? Do I ensure I have a full understanding of a situation before I respond? Do I have all the facts and information I need? Do I know how to be direct but tactful? Do I respond to negative situations quickly and effectively?
- Emotional Control – Do I put aside my personal feelings and focus on the overall goal or objective? Do I recognize when I need to step away from a situation and let someone else handle it? Am I patient when required to be?
Self-confident managers inspire confidence in others. Gaining the support of others is one of the key ways in which a self-confident person finds success. Without self-confidence you will not be effective in persuading others. Persuasion is a form of communication that has an impact; it helps to focus on the response or behavior you hope to achieve rather than just what you want to say as a way to counter one’s reluctance or unwillingness to change. To effectively persuade others you must know what to say or do and it must be done in the right way with the right attitude. You have to know what level of assertiveness is needed in a given situation and how to control your personal feelings and emotions. In the end, if you cannot persuade or convince others, you will struggle fulfilling your management responsibilities.
These are just short simple details of a few of the elements that impact one’s ability to successfully manage. Together, beauty, brains and brawn can provide managers the skills they need to make effective decisions, resolve problems, lead change and ultimately achieve organizational goals and objectives. Do you have the Beauty, the Brains and the Brawn?