Just as most of us know what it really takes to lose weight, most are also aware of what is necessary to manage well. Both things are simple, but they are by no means easy. Much as being healthy requires a lifestyle change and a return to the basics, so does being a good manager.
The way to lose weight, of course is to burn off more calories than are consumed. Eat less and/or exercise more. Simple. To be a good manager, follow the golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Everything stems from that. Equally simple.
So what’s the problem? Despite the fact that there is more written about leadership and management now than ever – more books, more aids, more methodologies to show the way – Americans remain fatter than ever, and management in the aggregate is worse now than ever. How can this be?
The simple answer is that it’s hard. It’s hard to eat healthy and exercise. It’s hard to do what is necessary to be a good manager. If it weren’t hard, everyone would be doing it. Not only is hard to be a good manager and remain healthy but it’s frequently enjoyable to do the opposite. It’s fun to eat unhealthy foods. It’s fun to go on management junkets and service our needs as opposed to those of the organization.
Some are in the state of denial. They don’t believe there is a problem at all. These are the ones that do the most harm to themselves and most especially to others. It’s difficult to convince people to change when they don’t see that there is a problem. Did you ever come across a woman that insists she’s a size 4 when she’s more like a 14? How about the “I’m just big boned” line? Some awful managers think they are the greatest. They routinely violate basic management tenets and twist and warp management wisdom to reflect positively on themselves. They need a “near death” experience to awaken.
Some are born leaders. They don’t think about leadership at all. They just have an innate ability to manage and lead well. It comes easy to them. Similarly, some are born with higher metabolisms, and are naturally more muscular. Some managers never pick up a book or go to a seminar yet are masters at leading. Some people eat whatever they want yet remain slim and muscular. Life is not fair, but that doesn’t mean that leadership can’t be learned or that those with slower metabolisms can’t lose weight. It simply means that for those that are not naturally gifted, it will take more time and more effort. They may never be as great, but they can make improvements and become good managers.
Unfortunately, others believe that they are lost causes. “Why bother? I’ll just buy a bigger pair of pants.” “Gotta die of something.” “I’ll just collect the pay check and try to do what it takes to stay employed. There’s no hope for me anyway.”
There are those that recognize the need to improve, but just can’t seem to do what it takes to sustain long term success. They search for the easy way. They want a pill, a machine, a management trick. They convince themselves: that that the stars of those exercise commercials got thin and sculpted using the advertised gimmick; that they can be millionaires in a week; that a 3 day seminar will turn the organization around?
On top of wanting it to be easy, it needs to be quick. After abusing their bodies for 20 years, they desire to be chiseled in stone after a month. After neglecting their staff for years, they expect them to respond to a rah rah speech and execute a productivity plan. They can’t understand why it doesn’t work. They repeat these tactics over and over again.
Dieting may occasionally achieve favorable short term results, but in most cases the regiments are too grueling to sustain. Adherence fades and most balloon right back up to their previous weight and usually beyond. There are similar results when embarking upon a management diet. Cost cuts are made or initiatives requiring an inordinate amount of support are attempted. There may very well be short term cost savings, or productivity increases, but in the long term tremendous havoc is wreaked and there is a return to the initial state and frequently worse.
What’s the answer?
There is no silver bullet. Good bodies and good teams are not built in a day. There needs to be a return to the basics.
Continue to learn. There are tips and aids that will help if done/used regularly. There is always more to learn about dieting and management/leadership. There will be strategies that appeal to some more than others – Take the steps rather than the elevator. Don’t eat before going to bed. Have a team meeting every Friday. Return all messages at the end of the day, etc. Just pick some proven strategies and stick with them.
Try to weave some fun in when ever possible. Just as playing a sport you enjoy is a great way to exercise without even realizing it, doing a team building exercise is a good way to have fun, build rapport, and to generate creativity. Take small steps and continue to work in more.
It’s OK to ask for help. Jenny Craig can help. Miracle Consultants, Inc. can too. Just remember that when Jenny and the consultants pack their bags and move on, don’t revert to old habits. Although the recommended methodologies may be perfectly good, without the discipline, and the lifestyle change they will not result in success. In fact, they will breed cynicism and hopelessness.
The bottom line is this. For those that recognize the need to improve, don’t go for the quick fad. Dieting is not the answer. A change in lifestyle is required for long term success – a consistent execution of the basics. There will be missteps along the way. Even the best of managers fail, but they recognize their errors and endeavor to limit them and improve.