Stop The Buck Before It Stops You

How often do you hear managers say,”Well my situation is different, – my territory is different.” What they mean is they don’t want to be judged on the same criteria as other people – and it’s an excuse they wheel out when things don’t come up to scratch.
There are two distinct attitudinal approaches in life – performance and excuses. But there’s only one that’s good for successful manager – performance.

Internalists are performance oriented
They accept personal accountability for their actions, successes and failures. When they’re unhappy with their results, they accept they only have to look into the mirror to stare the culprit straight in the eye. Externalists refuse to accept their responsibility and hide behind excuses. They’re always blaming some external source, condition or other people for their failures. They shouldn’t be called managers.

The failure formula
People fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept socially acceptable excuses for failure.
Excuses given by externalists would fill volumes – “I’d have made it, if it weren’t for the interest rate… I’d really be on top of the world if it weren’t for the tax situation… We’d be going great guns if it weren’t for policies of corporate team… We’d have made that deadline if purchasing had organised enough resources when we needed them.”
Externalists see themselves as the victim. Being victim gives them claim on the sympathy of others. It means they’re not responsible for what happens. They escape responsibility for their own failure.
The internalist on the other hand, plays life’s variables to the best of their ability.
Failure is always on the cards, but they’re willing to admit error and fault.
They’re also willing to learn from it, and try not to make the same mistake again. They’ll try to turn failure into future success.
Weak managers can’t say “I don’t know,” so they’ll ferret out an answer in order to save face. Which is bit silly considering that no one knows it all these days given the information-overloaded-world we live in.
The manager who feels compelled to project the image of being all-knowing, the person with all the answers risks destroying their credibility and ability to lead.
But the manager who doesn’t know the answer, but can say, “Let’s see how we can find the answer” shows more emotional maturity.

Whose needs?
Several years ago I consulted with sales organisation which had over 400 salespeople working mainly on commission basis.
One of the managers took me back to my hotel after the session and said he’d like me to talk with one of the saleswomen in his office. I asked what about.
He replied, “Well, she refuses to reach her potential. She could earn minimum of $100,000 year; she’s never earned less than $50,000, but for the past two years she’s refused to make more than $30,000.”
To me that looked like an interesting situation, so I asked for bit more background.
I learned she married in high school and was widowed at 26 with two small girls. With no skills, she went door to door selling, was quite successful, and joined the firm she was now with. She was initially one of the firm’s top producers, but recently stated she only wanted to earn set amount.
I recognised the situation straight away.
Who says she has potential of $100,000 year? Her manager? Who says she should earn $50,000 year? Her manager?
Now that her kids are grown and married, she just wants to earn $30,000 and spend the rest of the year travelling. That fills her needs.
It’s the manager who has the problem. The more she earns the more he makes.
I reckon he’d find five other people who would earn $50,000 year and increase his own income faster than he’ll force someone whose needs are $30,000 to earn $50,000. If he keeps pressuring her, he’s going to lose her! And he should lose her! Because she’s not there to serve him.
Now, if she had territory tied up or her income had been below the company’s minimum standard, that would have been different story.
But in that particular business no one had exclusive territories and she sold well above the company’s minimum standard. He cannot get her voluntary cooperation to do anything unless she’s meeting her own needs as well as those of the organisation.

The leadership barrier
There’s fact of life we have to accept. If you hold management position every person you manage distrusts you. We all doubt management.
Historically management has been guilty of some pretty wicked abuses in dealing with people. If not, we would never have had problems with child labour and sweatshops.
Consequently everyone has been taught and conditioned to some extent to believe that management regards you as nothing more than tool to reach management’s objectives.
Because you care, you come up with good idea you ask yourself: Is it good for my employees? Will it offer them greater opportunity? Will it give them greater chance for success? In your heart, you answer “Yes, it’s the greatest thing I could possibly do for them.”
You feel excited about your idea. You just can’t wait to tell them. You call them together in meeting and explain what you’re going to do for them – then they call their own meeting to discuss what you’re doing to them. These are the facts of life.
Simply, people have been trained to resist leadership. The only chance of ever penetrating this barrier to communication – of overcoming this resistance to our leadership – is good management on daily basis.
The first step is being an internalist – accepting personal accountability for your action.

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