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Submitted by p4N31 on


I attended a recent Effective Manager MT conference and it was a real eye opening experience for me.

One of the things I gained from the conference was a strong desire to develop myself into a stronger leader and manager, especially after hearing from others (ie. US41 :)) in the conference.

I'm seeking guidance/pointers on what worked for you (tasks/goals), what things to avoid, as part of self coaching for personal development.

US41's picture

I think you should read responses from multiple participants - not just me. I may be an MT poster child, but I didn't step on every single brick in the yellow brick road on my way to Oz. I would not even agree that I am at my destination yet. I've just started out OK.

I did something like this:

* Became aware that I did not know what I was doing by having two brilliant and determined men who were more experienced and smarter than I am get in my face.

Theme: Self Awareness and Honesty with myself.

* Sat down with my boss and asked him to name my biggest, most glaring behavior that was holding me back. I also asked her to name the one biggest non-behavior that I was lacking that I needed to improve. Stop & start. He surprised me and gave it considerable thought and came back with two and only two and refused to go further - not wanting to break me. This required a considerable leap of faith on my part. I did not yet trust my boss. After this, I did.

Theme: Trusting others to help me and making myself vulnerable by exposing my lack of self-confidence to those who could help me.

* I started listening to the podcasts, and I started out by testing out the delegation model. It worked well. So I listened to O3's, and though I did them poorly, I was 2000% improved in my intelligence gathering efforts. Suddenly my employees had become my eyes, ears, and hands. That worked, so I started giving feedback - I did this wrong too and used negative feedback to start. I listened to the podcasts again and again. I finally started to get it. It worked again and again. The more feedback I showered on my directs, the more they performed.

Theme: Go fearlessly where angels fear to tread. Throw caution to the wind. Take risks.

* We started piling up accomplishments. I set MT objectives. Those became MT accomplishments. Those accomplishments turned into charts and powerpoint slides. I started carrying a laptop to my boss monthly to show five slides of things I had improved or that my team had accomplished. He fell out of his chair every time and said, "This is amazing to watch. Keep going! Keep going!"

* My boss threw me some curve balls: bigger and bigger balls from the juggling koan landed on my desk. I was terrified. I figured them out, delegated like crazy, and absorbed the balls. They gave me more people, bigger balls, and I delegated more. I did everything I could to push work and responsibility downward to my directs. Then they ended up with directs as I reorganized my team. I did it again and again. The juggling koan and delegation model were combined with the trinity to upgrade my people while asking them to do more and more and more. And they did. And they still do.

* I read everything on the MT reading list. I read more than that. I read other books as well. And I didn't just read them. I took notes. I studied the notes. I pull the notebook out monthly and study the notes again and again. I have some of the concepts memorized now. My vocabulary began to change. I was invited to an executive staff meeting to talk to a guy three levels up from me about my team. I sounded like a different man. Instead of complaining about the injustice of it all, I spoke about objectives, roadmaps, long-term results, driving for effective behavior, architecting organizational structure to absorb increasing demand, and marketing our entire department's reputation. The guy just stared at the other execs like I was from Mars and corrected two things I misunderstood. Afterward, my boss was high-fiving me. "You stunned them. That was awesome."

Theme: Read the books Mark and Mike point you toward. Read them all. Study them. Take notes. Start with Drucker.

Like any sort of self-improvement program - it all starts with being aware you need help, reaching out to and trusting others to see that you are in need, and accepting their input. It isn't great political strategy and Machiavelli would roll in his grave hearing that a manager confessed to others that he was clueless.

It really is that simple: know yourself, reach out, accept input, and take decisive action right away. Hold yourself accountable.

cwatine's picture
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Wow ... US41, you are the man! You've come a long road.

What a great story about transforming oneself instead of trying to tranform the others! It has it all :

I am sure you don't mind me copying and traducing your story to show it to my managers.

Thank you foe sharing.


jhack's picture


Follow US41's advice.

A few more thoughts:

It's a continuous journey; There is no finish line. Practice, practice, practice. Just do it, learn from your mistakes, and keep plugging along.

Volunteer, at work and in your community. Managing a fundraiser or an internal project is a great way to work on leadership, persuasion, organizational and interpersonal skills.

Be kind and humble. Listen to what others are saying. Watch carefully what other managers do, and what kind of results they get.

And grow your network. "Do lunch." Call up old colleagues. Expand your world beyond your current employer.


misstenacity's picture

Fantastic post going over your progress along the MT path!

Reading this over is absolutely helpful as many of us are also doing that 2 steps forward, 1 step back kind of thing - its rocky going until the momentum begins to carry us and our teams into that next level of work.

Thank you.

MattJBeckwith's picture
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p4N31, glad to hear you got so much out of the recent conference.

I recently had the honor of talking with US41 and, even though I've found inspiration from him on the forums I was even more blown away by the story of how he got to where he is today.

Being self aware that you can improve is the trickiest part of being a manager. This soft-skill stuff requires we improve but it's often not clear to us for a long, long time. You've already reached that part so kudos to you!

Devour the M-T podcasts and material on the site but don't worry about putting it all in to place tomorrow. Start with one change. Implement O3s as an example. Review the 'casts often.

Learn from other people. In my career, I started learning so much more in my career when I realized that just learning from my boss and peers was going to limit me. Build your professional network and be willing to learn from others.

For me, I had to get over the fear of failure. Once I realized that I would have many, many failures and that each helped me in some way, I learned to take more chances and try new things.

MsSunshine's picture

One thing I'd like to highlight from what I read US41's experience and my own is that it's best to pick one thing and master it. Then you move on to the next. Practice with feedback to make sure you're doing it right - the old saying that "Only perfect practice makes perfect".

The problem I wasn't as smart as US41 to see that when I first decided I needed to improve my management skills. I read everything and tried everything at one. They were all great books with great advice. I felt like a sponge soaking it all in. Unfortunately, I didn't have a good coach/mentor then to tell me to slow down! So, I'd know what to do but wasn't effective at it before tackling the next task. I ended up feeling frustrated that I couldn't do it all. :oops:

Now what I do and coach my staff on is picking one or two focuses for the year and get really good at it. If they want to add something new, we have a serious conversation about whether the skill has really been mastered. Sometimes they are ready but forcing the conversation or thought helps you to slow down.

p4N31's picture
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I appreciate everyone's suggestions and encouragement. Amazing stories about transformation and personal experiences!

I have started a reading program and I've started with Drucker's "The Effective Executive". I have delegated my first task today using the delegation model. Even though I messed up the wording, the employee jumped on the opportunity. :)

Thank you for your advice.