Get on the Management Track — Page 2 of 2

5. Work to strengthen the company.

Some dedicated middle-managers work tirelessly to improve their own results but undermine themselves by disregarding how their efforts might adversely affect the company as a whole. Revenues, costs and profits are critical to business success but a company’s true strength lies in how well its parts work together as a harmonious whole. A department head may be able to improve her numbers by exploiting temporary weaknesses in another department. The net affect, however, would be to harm the company as a whole. A manager who takes a narrowly parochial view of her responsibilities will soon find herself without support from peers and superiors. Always remember that your first loyalty is to the company as a whole, then to your department, then to your own position. The ability to keep the big picture in sight is a critically important attribute of a top manager.

6. Understand the company’s mission.

You can only become a truly effective manager when you achieve a deep understanding of the company’s mission. Only then can you help the company meet its larger objectives. Keep in mind that a company’s mission changes constantly to accomodate and anticipate constant changes in the marketplace. Upper management’s most important job is to track those changes and to take steps to reposition the company for continuing growth and profitability. By understanding the overall mission you naturally become an active partner in the ongoing effort to maintain your company’s vitality. The importance of this task is underscored by the fact that only a handful of America’s 100 biggest companies at the turn of the century still rank in the top 100. A manager who can suggest and implement far-sighted changes will have little trouble securing a place in upper management.

7. Show pride in the company’s history and culture.

A company is much more than a collection of accounts, equipment and bodies. Its true value lies in the mutual understanding shared by management and employees. This shared understanding or culture is the software, if you will, that allows a business to function smoothly and effectively as a profitable whole. If there were a serious tear in this cultural fabric, the company could well lose its capacity to function effectively enough to survive. Loss of a company’s culture threatens its survival far more seriously than destruction of its plant and equipment. One of top management’s key missions is to maintain and upgrade the company’s culture so as to maintain and enhance the morale of the collective workforce. Studies have shown that nothing improves a company’s performance more quickly and economically than a dramatic improvement in morale. The most important ways to create high morale is to build a corporate culture that confers a sense of belonging and participation on all employees. It is the set of shared values and goals that enables a company of people to work and endure hardships for the sake of achieving common goals. Those who belittle or otherwise undermine this shared culture become viruses that sap the company’s vitality. By learning about and taking pride in the company’s history and culture, you make yourself a guardian of this culture. Anyone wanting to assume a position of leadership and influence must be able to tap the power of this common culture because only those seen as taking pride in the company culture will find herself in a position to lead.

8. Share the credit.

Effective managers know that praise is the most powerful motivator of all. By being generous with praise, you define yourself as an important source of motivational energy. To someone aspiring to a high management post that is a more valuable distinction than the perception that she is personally talented and hard-working. If you happen to be one of those individuals who are exceptionally talented and hard-working who, in fact, can single-handedly do the lion’s share of the work, you must make a special effort to pass around the credit. You might be able to enjoy a certain level of success based on your own personal abilities, but the rewards are ultimately much greater if you can multiply your insights and talents by learning to motivate those around you. If you acquire a reputation as one who likes to hog the glory, you’ll have an exceptionally difficult time moving to the top of the management pyramid.

9. Act like an owner.

An owner devotes not only her head to the business but her heart and soul as well. In a very visceral sense the company belongs to her. It has less to do with her actual equity stake in it than with the fact that she has chosen to link her fate with that of the business. She will do everything in her power to ensure its success. That kind of commitment naturally confers a powerful kind of authority that commands respect. If you aspire to a position of genuine influence in the company, empower yourself by assuming the attitude of an owner. You can start doing this at any stage of your career. Start by caring about every little thing that is within your power to influence for the better. Then do something about it. You’ll be surprised to see how quickly this ownership attitude translates to a commensurate level of responsibility, authority and reward.

10. Know when you aren’t valuable.

Nothing shows as much self-confidence and genuine concern for the company as an executive who announces that she is no longer as valuable as she might be in her position. This may have come about due to structural changes in the company that have reduced the importance of her position. It may have been due to her own success in training and delegating her responsibilities down to a lower level. Or it may be a combination of the two. Whatever the case, an executive does herself a severe disservice by continuing to fill a position that does not enable her to do her best for the company. Even if she doesn’t come forward to announce it, her superfluousness would have been discovered sooner or later. By taking the initiative, you earns your boss’s respect, and she will work with you to optimize your value to the company by reassigning you, redefining your position or promoting you. You may even be able to suggest precisely the kind of position that would maximize your value to the company. If a suitable position isn’t available within the company, you can work with your boss to ensure a move to another company that needs someone with your experience and capabilities. In any case, you will have kept your career from stalling and taken the next step in your progress up the corporate management ladder. Prev

1 | 2