Archive for October, 2009


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Vol. L

Dear Manager,

In Interpersonal, I have often referenced similarities between management and parenting. In the course of our working day, we are managers and we are teachers. Do we often feel like parents?! Our best qualities as managers are probably our best qualities as parents. Our worst qualities as parents are probably our worst qualities as managers.

Whether raising a child or running a business, I believe there is a tendency in the early stages to give too much.

All of us have experienced the joys and rewards of giving. We have also wrestled to regain a balance when we have given too much. By nature, we want to create a better environment for those around us than we may have had. If we were deprived, (or felt that we were deprived), we want to bring pleasure.

We have all seen parents who have provided the trappings of excess. As these children become adults, will they have the skills and motivation, much less the desire, to create their own foundation for success? With only good intentions, we have all, at some point, insulated those around us from the difficult and painful aspects of life. Have we sold the future for the difficult decisions and mixed messages of today?

In the process of creating that “better environment,” I believe we have the potential to establish a reality that can’t always be lived up to. And if it could, would we want it to? It can be very hard to say no, especially if the resources and desire are available to say yes! This is the balance I am referring to, this is the balance that troubles us all.


As managers, we foster the perception of being in control, in tune, and on time! We are looked up to for guidance, support, understanding, and confidence in the future. Being looked up to feels good! For some we manage, this can also become a crutch. It can lead to an attitude of, “So how are you going to fix my problems?” This reminds me of the child who has just spent their lunch money on arcade games then whines, “But I’m hungry!”

Without question, managers hold a very serious responsibility in creating an environment for success. There will be challenges, setbacks, and disappointments. Our responsibilities as managers are equal to those of the individuals who have chosen to be associated with us. All working relationships are based on mutual choice. Mutual benefit must also exist for any relationship to succeed.


Being a manager is also a choice. It comes with trappings, it comes with responsibilities. This includes not giving too much of oneself. I know managers who have lost all sense of self-worth, as they have sold their soul in order to meet excessive demands. With instant communication available on the cell, online, or vibrating on your belt, when is your life your own?

At times, I am discouraged by the pace we have all been thrust into when technology runs amok. Even when we carve out “personal time,” there is pressure for all of us to stay “on line.” I worry that these pressures have become commonplace and will ultimately become the standard. Being available “24-7” simply can’t continue. I speak from experience.

There have been times in my career that, in retrospect, resulted in little fulfillment and even less productivity. Soon my objectivity, enthusiasm, and energy were simply not at their best. While I could point fingers at the time, only I am responsible for my choices and the outcome.


Have you trained those who look for your guidance and direction to expect that you are available regardless of your personal time and needs? Do these individuals now expect the world to revolve around their sense of urgency relating to you? If you do not hold this aspect of your life in high regard, do you expect others to do so on your behalf? Do you hold a standard of mutual respect for the personal time and privacy of others? I learned a number of years ago that there is very little that cannot wait a day.

I recently read an article relating to the number of managers who have left their profession to “regain control of their life.” High quality individuals are leaving our profession. I am convinced that these individuals have simply never learned to say no. They lament the pressures of management, the lack of quality time for themselves, the stress that has besieged them. It may be easier to walk away from ones career than it is to address the issue. Management holds equal parts of fulfillment and necessitousness (is this a great word or what!), only if we take back control.

My goal in this month’s issue is to stop this snowball in so many individuals’ careers before it is too late. We will only survive as managers if we are willing to assume full responsibility for our personal happiness. It is no one else’s responsibility, there is no shared blame. Management is what it is, our future and destiny are, very simply, ours. We have the ability to save something for ourselves; it is our responsibility to not give too much.

With balance, our careers will flourish, those who are most important to us will enjoy our company, and we, as managers, will enjoy the objectivity to perform at a much higher level of personal satisfaction. This is a difficult transition. Will some individuals misunderstand these objectives, and others be threatened by your intentions? You betcha! Then again, it is survival.

Our local paper recently ran an article about a local developer who had accumulated substantial wealth and power. Though his comments focused on his belief that all excess wealth should be given back to those in our society with real need, they apply to broader aspects of life. “We are doing the greatest disservice to those we care about the most,” he said, “ if they are given a free ride. What personal growth or satisfaction is gained from receiving too much?”

We all have a responsibility to not only give of ourselves, but to save something for ourselves. In an odd sort of way, this reminds me of retired people who refuse to live life to the fullest in order to retain their nest egg for their children. As managers, we must realize the difference between creating opportunity and guaranteeing the future. While somewhat extreme, Wayne Dyer has always enjoyed sharing a favorite tongue-in-cheek quote: “I don’t believe in life insurance … I want it to be a real tragedy when I die!”

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2009. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


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Dear Manager,

There are two qualities that I admire most. I look for these qualities in those with whom I work, those who manage their own businesses, and in my own children. They can be learned through the example of others at home, school, or by working with a manager who sees potential and is willing to challenge. I am not convinced that these qualities receive adequate emphasis as being a valuable life skill.

Most of us began our careers with an entry-level position. More than any others, these two qualities were likely to have impacted our future growth and success. Talent and knowledge pale in the face of …


From a manager’s perspective, I can’t think of a greater quality to bring to one’s career. While there are many individuals with initiative, there are far more without. Initiative demands a strong understanding of one’s own position, its relationship to the whole and, most importantly, an awareness of one’s fellow workers.

These individuals are the Radar O’Reilys (of M*A*S*H fame) of the working world. They are simply aware. Their job description is transcended by their desire to accomplish tasks, whether or not it is “their job.” They are consistently one step ahead and resourceful. Rarely are these individuals looking for outright recognition. Their satisfaction is personal, and comes from meeting the needs of the organization.

Typical of these individuals is, “I noticed that you’ve scheduled a meeting for next week. I ordered extra note pads, pastries for the morning break, and will make sure that the conference room is ready.” They do all of this without being asked because they pay attention.

When surrounded by initiative, it allows a manager’s position to shine. These individuals become indispensable, regardless of current internal business trends. In fact, the tougher it gets, the more valuable they become. These people aren’t clock watchers. Their higher purpose is to get the job done, and then some.

As they continue to grow within their own position, they assist others. They are very keen at learning the skills of others, with no desire for credit. Showing an awareness and understanding in the skills of others, they are first to be recognized for new positions that may become available. Their abilities will also challenge others to be at their best.

The contrasting situation for any manager is the individual who simply takes no responsibility for tasks beyond the norm. As managers, we must now consistently define responsibilities that can be accomplished without our need to know. Being responsible for our own day, in addition to the day of those around us, becomes a real drag. Worry creeps in as we speculate about the important functions that may not have been accomplished by those around us. Is it really easier to do it all?

I’m sure we’ve all been on both sides of this equation. We must continue to reach out for those individuals with this very intuitive quality. In application, it simply doesn’t get any better! You might be wondering what more we could possibly ask. How about a strong sense of


I believe ambitious individuals, and often those with strong initiative, have gotten a bad rap in recent years. If you are labeled as ambitious, it suggests to some that you are willing to trample your peers to attain your ultimate objective. I am not referencing this aspect of blind and self-serving ambition.

Ambition, like initiative, can be highly productive and positive. We have all heard of the high-level manager or owner of a business who began by sweeping the floors. This person’s goal wasn’t to just clean floors, it was to be the best sweeper in the Floor Sweeper Hall of Fame!

Even I would have a hard time in swallowing it if you believed this individual had a vision of one day being President of the company. Was this person’s sweeping expertise noticed by those in a position of authority? Did this individual rise over others with greater tenure and less ambition? Should this person have apologized for having been of greater value to the company? Should this person have recognized “their place” and remained forever satisfied with a role as a sweeper?

Those with positive ambition are sensitive to their surroundings. They have the ability to bring out the best in themselves and in others. They lead by example rather than at the expense of others. They are often the first to recognize high achievement in others. Those around them either see a similar opportunity for themselves, or grumble their way to self-imposed mediocrity.

Perhaps being an overachiever is the best way to describe these individuals. Those who see these individuals as “brown nosers” simply don’t understand the mind set of an overachiever and never will. These individuals listen to a different voice, one deep down in their gut.

Most of us grew up working for someone. With good fortune the die was cast relating to these important qualities. We all learn best by example. As managers we can assist in their development, but there has to be a receptive student for these qualities to find a home

The passion to advance and take greater advantage of one’s skills is inherent to success. While as managers we hold the torch, we must not compromise our own standards to accommodate the lowest common denominator. I believe initiative and ambition are two qualities that are rarely addressed in an interview or in the ongoing training process of our
staff members. It is as if we simply sit back and hope that these qualities will reveal themselves.

I believe it may be time for all of us to address these skills in very specific terms and surround ourselves with those who understand. Address their importance by emphasizing them as fundamental qualities that are routinely expected of their position within the organization. Think ahead of the game – there is no greater way to get noticed. Simply putting in one’s hours, and taking little responsibility for one’s position relating to the whole, is not good enough in today’s world.

On an ongoing basis, we must continue to acknowledge, reward, and promote those individuals with initiative and a positive sense of ambition.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2009. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM