Are you a "Copycat" Manager?

International management is hands on – more accurately it might be described as “full body”! I mean, you can sometimes find “how-to” management articles from the school where you got your training, or other international organization related to what you do, but chances are that they are dry, boring, and they don’t really match who you are very well and what you are actually facing.

In the past month, I have gotten a few people asking advice on how to manage their team.  Advice I do not have --- there is already a lot of abstract advice out there on how to manage more “effectively” -- meanwhile the concrete “problems” pile up on your desk!

Seriously- you know what I mean. The articles that you may have downloaded off the training school’s website, taken home from your last management training are probably sitting in a pile on your desk.  And all the advice that you hear probably never seems to make enough of a difference in your day-to-day life as a manager.

It’s not that these resources are bad per se, it’s just that these articles and advice are never going to get to the heart of what is going on specifically for you.

Maybe it feels intimidating, overwhelming, or just plain exhausting to try and focus on yourself as a manager?

Here are three reasons why not focusing on yourself as a manager is a BIG mistake:

  • There are very few of us that can say we got good at anything without conscious work, and real effort
  • Trying to copy another person’s successful management style (the copycat manager) is a short lived solution.  (When was the last time you saw a vacancy annoucement for "Copycat Manager"!)
  • Your capacity to manage your team towards success is IMPORTANT – it affects beneficaries lives

Here are some CONCRETE thoughts for managers whose job it is to meet objectives related to social and socio-economic programmes.  This entry will be useful to all people in organizations because even people who are not in a management role can utilize the ideas below.

1. Your team as your teacher: Many, many managers that I speak with see their team as an obstacle – “If only I could have a better team than I could reach my goals”.  In the most extreme cases, managers feel victimized by their teams.  My only comment on this is that this perspective is limited.  If managers can see their team as their teacher it is much more interesting.  The “problems” that arise for your team provide you with material to work with! In essence your team is reflecting back to you your management style – the good, not so effective and the plain ugly elements of how you work with others!  Pay attention – your team is “real time” feedback – raw and unfiltered!

2. Becoming yourself as a manager: The most successful managers are mostly themselves.  Their management style is an extension of their own personality and preferences – and over time they learn to leverage their own skills and improve their weaknesses.  However, this whole natural process of improvement demands one thing – COURAGE first to learn about yourself and then courage to trust yourself as your lean into bringing more of yourself to the management role. (This is the opposite of the copy-cat manager – who lack of self-confidence leads them to try and copy others management style).

3. People: Your job starts and stops with people.  All your team members (except for the rare exception) can and will contribute to the overall objective of the organization or the unit you are leading.  Individual’s contribution depends on your capacity to learn to cultivate positivity and productivity in each member and in the group as a whole. 

4. The Right Focus: Train yourself to keep your focus on the people you are helping and constantly remind your team of this ultimate goal.  Everyday, and perhaps every moment of your life as a manager in the international workspace, will try to pull you away from this focus - whether it be the demanding processes that govern the daily working life:  daily, weekly, monthly reports, spreadsheets, evaluations, emails, emails, emails. 

Have you noticed how many programme people are looking at a screen all day, all week, all year long?  Progress should not be measured in the number of emails or inputs into a spreadsheet but should by the big agenda to be of service to others and part of a greater solution.

Inquiry: What does it mean to bring more of yourself into your management role?

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