Every day seems to expose a new episode in the GSA spending scandals. Inappropriate actions resulting in the massive misuse of taxpayer money have occurred at so many levels that it is hard to get your arms around the full scope of the abuse. The fear that what has already been revealed is just the tip of the iceberg is very real. Which department will be the next one to fall short of its fiduciary responsibilities? While senior management will ultimately bare the brunt of the responsibility here, as it should, there are many others in successive levels of management who had to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans.
In a previous management position, I had profit and loss responsibility. I remember weighing each of my decisions regarding financial outlays carefully to ensure that each one brought the best return on investment possible. I was responsible and I accepted that accountability.
Now, as a management coach, a few questions continue to gnaw at me about the GSA fiasco. What internal perspective would allow someone to believe it was okay to approve the funds allocated to the events exposed so far? Are the actions we are witnessing the result of an entitlement mentality that has seeped into our work culture and knows no boundaries? In what other ways is this “I’m entitled to ... ” mentality manifesting itself in our workplaces, robbing organizations of talent, opportunities to grow and prosperity? What do managers need to do to shift from entitlement to empowerment and service?
As I see it, as a manager, you are serving the needs of fellow employees, owners, customers and a host of interested publics. When we think of managerial work as service not control, its importance becomes clear. You are the role model. You are the teacher of the next generation of managers and leaders. And this means your actions must be right actions especially when you think no one is watching. Because everyone is watching!
Managers, it’s your time to step up to the plate. There is no more important action that you can take right now than to model those qualities that really make all the difference. These are attributes like trustworthiness, integrity, and courage, to name but three, and they are relevant regardless of whether you work for a private concern, a non-profit or the government. If you do not know how to answer this all important call, relax. You can learn.
Think about it. What programs about how to be a more effective manager / leader have you participated in recently? How have you incorporated the new learning into your everyday actions? Or were you so overwhelmed when you got back to your daily routine your new learning was put on the shelf as nice, but hard to implement now. Such a waste!
There are many ways to grow as a manager. One learning initiative with which I am intimately familiar discusses a unique set of intangible skills called savvy skills. There are five savvy skills - self managing, reflecting, acting consciously, collaborating, and evolving. These skills offer you an opportunity to become more effective by emphasizing the importance of personal actions as a way to achieve more effective results. You can learn more about the savvy skills at www.thesavvymanager.biz or in The Savvy Manager: 5 Skills that Drive Optimal Performance.
For now, let’s talk benefits. The benefits of incorporating the savvy skills into your repertoire can be significant. Like a laser beam, you learn how to target your energies toward actions that actually produce the outcomes you want. You learn how to embrace conversations as opportunities to harness the efforts of many skilled people and gain commitment. You learn how to lead with conviction and courage. All of these benefits are real because you are working from the inside out, developing your strongest, most authentic self first and using it as your springboard to more effective actions.
As I close this blog entry, I invite you to think about when you are at your very best and how your results during those times far exceed even your expectations. What intangible skills are you using? Are any of these a match to the savvy skills mentioned here?
Jane R. Flagello, EdD. is a performance coach, motivational speaker and writer. Her efforts center on enabling people to develop those attributes that enhance effectiveness in all areas of life. The Savvy Manager: 5 Skills that Drive Optimal Performance, published by ASTD shares insights on how the savvy skills improves important workplace areas like communication, leadership and team development.