Management Matters: Do You Have the Courage to Be a Manager?

My clients who are managers often laugh at the joke that in exchange for being paid the ‘big bucks,’ they have to make hard decisions. It is the flip side of the exciting aspects of being the boss. They never really thought about how prepared they were to make tough decisions and take responsibility for them but that is a large aspect of being a member of the management team.

Many of my current clients are surprised and unprepared to be really brave and power through difficult and often distasteful tasks that come with sticky complications. What should know and what should someone/their bosses have told them about managerial courage?

Accept Discomfort – Most of us find the status quo appealing; it allows us to feel competent and confident. In order to grow and win, there must be some risk and it requires courage to step out of the comfort zone where big wins have a better chance of happening.

Be a Realist - There are many good things about motivating people and developing talent, but not every strategy works. Even in San Diego - it isn’t sunny every day! Make sure you talk about problems, and potential hurdles. Be a realist. If a problem exists, admit it. Hiding from difficulties does not eliminate them.

Don’t Go Solo -Depending on others takes courage and trust. Delegation is key to a boss’s success because you are empowering others. Have the nerve to relinquish some control. If nothing can happen without your involvement, you are probably micromanaging.

Let Them Go - There will be times when no matter what you try or how hard you hope - someone will not be able to perform at the standard that is required. When you recognize that it is no longer a good fit, it takes courage to let an employee go. Being decisive and not letting things drag on is considerate for everyone involved.

Push Back - Innovation requires improving upon what exists and protecting the status quo may not be in the organization’s best interest. Question the way things are and learn to see if there is a better way. Some things outlive their usefulness

Question Boundaries - If people always have to ask permission, it may mean that the boss is too involved in controlling instead of developing them.

Live the Values - If behavior is as important as output, have the courage to say so. Having high standards and imposing some discipline is not for the faint of heart. It means that the focus is on long term benefits, not just short term satisfaction. Employees may not be thrilled and say thank you, but they will, in time, understand the benefit of taking the longer view.

Decide and Act - Procrastination is easy for busy people but the longer decisions are put off, the longer the situation continues to deteriorate. Make a decision and then act on it. Execution doesn’t have to be perfect. Acting in uncertain situations, where you don’t have all the information can be especially challenging but not acting make it appear that you don’t know – or don’t care about a decline in performance or output – and the impact of that on others..

Don’t Lie - It isn’t easy to tell people things they don’t want to hear, but it’s important to do it. While there may be times when it is more appropriate to stay silent, if you are asked for your opinion, give it. Practice being direct AND kind.

Act With Integrity - When what you think mirrors what you say and do, people see you as having integrity.

The truth is that not everyone will like what you do. There may be times when colleagues and employees question your decisions and morals might dip. Allow people to have their reactions. There is little cost to being understanding. Then focus them on what YOU are focused on – improving morale, output and performance.

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management consulting practice that specializes in developing people in the areas of leadership and management, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 30 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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