Gary Winters

Coach  Workshop Facilitator Author

Do you over-manage and under-lead?

A core belief of Warren Bennis (from his insightful book On Becoming a Leader) is that organizations are over-managed and under-led. I worked with two organizations which dramatically illustrate his point. Both are billion dollar enterprises, although admittedly in different industries and with different constraints. For the moment, let’s call them A and B.

When computers were first brought to the desk top twenty years ago, company A decided it was an opportunity to put all the organization’s policies and procedures at everyone’s fingertips, rather than in the three-ring binders that had been housed “down the hall” as had been the practice. They put a Tiger Team together to manage this project, and its first task was to assemble all the policies into one physical place.

They soon learned that there were over 60,000 pages to input into the computer!

As someone observed, their policy and procedures manual was “a post mortem on past performance.” For years, they had attempted to codify proper performance by creating a new rule every time something happened that wasn’t acceptable.

Company B, in contrast, had risen from a small family business to become a dominant player in their market with a simple, one-sentence “policy” – Always use your own best judgment. They also had a one sentence job description for all of their managers: Teach judgment.

To be fair, I’ll reveal that Company A is a defense contractor, and Company B is a retailer. As I’ve said, different industries, and different constraints.

Whenever I tell this story in a workshop, there are always some who want to defend or rationalize the defense contractor and it’s encyclopedic policy manual, given its customer is the government. And they have a point – to a point. But they miss the deeper insight – which has to do with which way do they want to lean in their own organization – toward more efforts to manage every possible performance contingency with a rule book, or toward more effort to lead employees in a culture of trust, ownership and mindful initiative?

Bennis draws sharp distinctions between leaders and managers:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why
  • The manager has his eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it
  • The manager is a classic good soldier; the leader is his own person
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing

Obviously, organizations need to be managed. There is a need for consistency and efficient systems. What often stifles an organization, however, is not a lack of talented managers. What stifles an organization is often a culture which fears people who lead. You know, the people who stay focused on the vision, who trust and stretch their people, and who lean into their discomfort to do the right thing – even when it “violates” company policy.

Regardless of your job title, you always have a choice. You can focus on managing, or you can focus on leading. What will you focus on today?

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is the sequel to the very popular “What Your Boss Never Told You.” Packed inside are more tips, techniques, and insights about the challenging, but rewarding leadership position.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is written in a conversational tone, as though you and the author were enjoying a cup of coffee and talking about the issues that emerge for new leaders. It stands alone, and/or could be read before or after the first volume, “What Your Boss Never Told You.” You can start with any chapter and read in any order you like.

if you search for a book on management, you’ll find a staggering 600,000+ books currently available. How can you narrow that down? “What Your Boss Never Told You” is the best place to start.

No textbook here – this book is short and sweet. It’s designed to help you “unpack” your new job and be effective from the first day with your new team. It contains twenty-one chapters filled with the wisdom Winters has gathered from real managers – effective, successful leaders in organizations much like yours.

Leaders make decisions every day – big and small. Most know that if they include others in the decision-making process, the quality of those decisions – and the commitment to them – will likely improve. That said, they also know it’s impractical, if not impossible, to include others in every decision they confront.

“To Do or Not To Do” tackles the question of when to make decisions on your own, and when to involve your team. It gives you a deceptively simple but proven method to determine, when you are facing a difficult decision, how to decide how to decide.

Far too many meetings are dreadful, mind-numbing, energy-draining, productivity-sapping, colossal wastes of time. As someone once said, “To kill time, a meeting is the perfect weapon.”

Here’s the deal: if you’re willing to learn and apply the techniques in “So, How Was Your Meeting?”, you’ll call fewer meetings, while vastly improving the ones you do lead. They’ll take less time, have more balanced participation, produce better decisions, and result in concrete action items for follow-up afterwards.

While there are thousands of books written for people about to retire, this may be the only book for people who manage soon-to-retire employees. Written in a casual, conversational style, “Managing the Soon To Retire Employee” will give you everything you need to know to move forward with confidence and grace.

You can be successful with Sooners. It won’t happen by chance, and it’s not a matter of pulling some management “trick” out of your hat. But you can learn how to do it, and you can apply what you’ve learned right away.

Managing friends or former peers can be awkward. When you become the boss, everything about these relationships can suddenly be uncomfortable. There’s a new set of ground rules to establish – as manager, you are going be accountable for the work performance of friends or former co-workers on the team, and they are going to have to adjust to the fact that they now report to you. Everyone involved can feel awkward and hesitant about the future. 

Have you been approached by management with an offer to promote you to supervision? Or, are you mulling over the possibility for the future? Find yourself not sure whether to accept the promotion?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Help! They Want to Make ME a Supervisor will help you sort out a very big question: Should you accept the offer to become a supervisor? Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be confident that you’ve made the best decision for you and for your organization.