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“Super-Critical” Management Skills for an Economy in Hyperdrive

September 1, 2000
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It’scertainly a brave new economy. But are today’s managers prepared? After a three-yearconversation with top professors at 16 of the nation’s leading graduate schools ofbusiness (such as Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Columbia, and NYU), Joe Powell can easily answerthat question. Powell is president of Worthing Brighton Press, a Houston-based publishingcompany formed to study and report on the most significant trends in management and theirapplication to the new economy.

Inthe firm’s Year 2000 “High-ImpactManagement Survey,” experts indicate that high-impact managers have always shared12 performance characteristics. The following six are still very important.

•A high level of self-awareness.

•Knowledge of human motivation.

•The ability to allocate limited resources perceptively.

•A well-developed personal vision and the ability to sell it.

•A well-developed set of personal values.

•A commitment to community.

Butto be a high-impact player these days, a manager needs a fast-track development plan thatincludes the following six characteristics, which Powell describes as “super-critical”:

Established knowledge and learning networks.Right this minute, you don’t know enough to get where you want to be. No one does.Efficient learning has never been more critical, but doing it at a civilized, academicpace will leave you working in the background. High-impact people develop and participatein several ongoing “knowledge networks.” By the way, don’t limit yourselfto technical and professional topics. Build a network of people with whom you can ponderthe imponderables. You will find that life’s great lessons can be powerfully appliedin your career.

The ability to effectively analyze and packagecomplex information. Most business issues won’t fit in a clearly defined, nicelywrapped package. While some people are gifted at taking simple problems and making themseem mind-numbingly complex, others can attack a tangled issue, identify the basicstructure, and present a coherent resolution strategy.

The willingness to be flexible and the capacity tobe fast. It’s no longer enough to make the right call. You’ve got to make itbefore your competitors do. And be prepared to respond when market conditions change. Themanagement and leadership wisdom of the past hasn’t been repealed by the new economy,but it has been slammed into hyperdrive.

The ability to make decisions in conditions ofextreme ambiguity. Clearly marked paths are disappearing. The ability to capitalize ona good call is less impressive than the ability to recover quickly from a bad one. You’llseldom feel that you have all the data, advice, and time you need to make the rightdecision. Do it anyway.

The capacity and willingness to think boldly.Bold thinking isn’t about being right. If you feel the need to be steadfastlycorrect, you won’t be free to take those intuitive vaults that are absolutelyrequired for high-impact leadership. Listen to your passion and give yourself permissionto be wrong.

The ability to develop effective professionalrelationships quickly. Henry Ford once asked, “Why is it that when I want to hirea set of hands, I get an entire human?” Ford clearly understood what he wanted fromhis people, but did he understand what they wanted from him? Most of us decide prettyquickly what we need from the people with whom we work. An understanding of humanmotivation and the capacity for active listening are required to find out what others wantfrom us.  If you don’t genuinelyunderstand to whom you’re talking, you’re probably talking to yourself.

Source:Worthing Brighton Press

Workforce,September 2000, Vol. 79, No. 9, p. 28 -- Subscribe now!

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