A few days back, I watched my two teenage kids somewhat reluctantly eat the morning cereals (the healthy ones) while pretending to listen to my enthusiastic advice on how to get their stuff done at school (not that I would know too well myself!).
And at just that moment, I had a managerial epiphany.
As a father, I count the days until I can stop doing those things — feeding, teaching, and supervising my kids. I reduce their dependency day in, day out, systematically working towards rendering myself redundant so that I can finally start enjoying the finer things in life. The kids will eventually need to figure out some important stuff on their own. And most probably, they will.
As managers, we are engaged in the very same stuff — we make sure that day-to-day chores get done, sibling rivalry stays within reason, the basic value system is there, and nobody throws wild house parties or sets the house on fire while the parents are away on holiday. In a more general sense, we help ensure that overall life goals are set and met. And we always try to offer our best advice, even when nobody really asks for it.
While a parent’s most significant goal is becoming irrelevant, it’s the manager’s worst nightmare. What will I be if I stop managing? Probably out of work. Or out of business. Likely both. So, let’s manage — heavily, with full force, twenty-four-seven, at all levels — to keep things under control. We love being busy because it makes us feel safe.
Let me tell you — if you start treating your team as you would treat your kids (I know this sounds bad, but bear with me for a second), good things can happen!
By managing less and trusting more, you will eventually get two things.
Firstly, the team that gradually becomes independent. People in your company will emerge that can and will take responsibility. Good stuff happens because they have adapted to your work ethics, values, and aspirations, rather than just doing set tasks and reporting back results.
You can still be a manager, as you would continue to be a parent. Just less of a nappy changer and more of a cool dad to grown kids, who will love to come over for some good advice or a funny story (and sometimes, a free meal).
And secondly, you WILL get occasional house parties. Still worth the risk, though. It’s all part of growing up — both as a parent and manager.