I try to write a blog every week. Normally, something comes up that sets me off. This week, an email appeared in my inbox which was a retirement message from an old friend to the colleagues he was leaving behind. I wish I’d written it – so below is a sample.
He introduced his message with reference to Mary Schmich’s ‘Wear Sunscreen’. I wish I’d written that too. He writes:
One way, no way!
I’ve been an advocate, ever since I cut my teeth on management, of the belief that the best managers have and use a range of styles to suit the needs of the situation and people they are dealing with. It should not be that just because you are in management everyone else has to accommodate you. It should be just the opposite. A good manager’s skill lies in having the armoury to get the best out of whatever needs to be faced.
There are times when you need to be robust and unflinching and times when you need to be accommodating and flexible. There are times when you need to be inspirational. There are times when you need to be hard, even scary. There are times when a show of anger does no harm. And there are times when you should be empathetic, supportive, warm and cuddly.
Seek and listen to feedback
I never liked feedback. I hated being told what I hadn’t done well or could have done differently or better. But I have been a beneficiary of sound, well-meaning feedback. Others will see what we don’t. They will also feel what it is like to be on the receiving end of what we do and say, something which is hard for us. Have your channels open and listen, however difficult the message.
Pass it on
On my first visit across the Atlantic, I was in awe of what I was seeing and the people I was meeting. I was, in truth, a bit out of my depth. I am grateful to this day to a US colleague who not only recognised this but took me under her wing so that I not only benefited from the experience but contributed too. She even took me for my first ‘Mall’ visit to do some souvenir shopping. Whilst shopping I told her I’d like to buy her something to say thanks. Her response? “Please don’t. If I’ve been of help then do me just one favour: pass it on. If we all did that, the world would be a much better place.” I later discovered that she had lost her husband in the US embassy bombing in Africa. She had every right to be bitter but was just the opposite. I was moved by her philosophy and adopted it right away. I recommend it to you.