I know many people who have joined missionary groups or volunteer organizations – they’ve given up a large portion of their life to work for a cause in some of the most dangerous and unpleasant regions of the world. When I ask them, “Why?” they always respond: “Because I felt I was called to do this work.”
I spoke with Ron MacDougall, owner of MSE Inc. in Borden, PEI who spends a month or so each year volunteering in one of the poorest regions of the world helping people in need. This takes significant time away from his business and family. As well, he does this at his own risk and expense. When I asked him why, he said: “I feel ‘called’ to help people who are most in need. If you genuinely like people you will want to help those who lack opportunity.” Ron volunteers where opportunity is scarce and helps people become self-sufficient.
To be a great manager you also need to like people. Ron’s philosophy is –
A good manager knows the business – a great manager knows the people.
If you invest in people, the people will do their best for you.
I believe that becoming a manager should also be a ‘calling.’ Being a manager is not a job, a position, nor a title. It is one of the most important callings that an employee can aspire to. Why? Because you are entrusted by your company with their most important resource – the people.
Workers should aspire to management not to make more money, not for control, and not to have a title. They should feel “called” to make a difference. A difference in people’s lives, a difference to the productivity and culture of their company, or to make a difference by providing a healthy place where people can apply their profession or expertise, who in turn will aspire to help others.
A manager’s responsibility includes developing people on the team to become the leaders of the future. In a study conducted by David Maister, best-selling author, expert on the management of professional services firms, and former Harvard Business School professor, he showed that:
(a) Creating a positive emotional climate has a significant impact on the bottom line
(b) Managers play the most important role in making that happen
His interviews with managers and employees reveal that the keys to organizational success were not the strategies or systems of the firm, but rather the character and skills possessed by managers – whether they had integrity (practiced what they preached), communicated effectively, took their role as coach and mentor seriously, and were properly trained to provide a collaborative work environment.
My experience has been that a company’s success depends on the ability to create an environment where employees want to do a great job and have the support, guidance, and resources to make that happen.
When a company looks after the managers, the managers will look after the people, and the people will look after the customers.
The best managers who believe they have a calling, and not a job, display five elements that differentiate them from all others:
- They wake up every morning excited and passionate about the day ahead.
- They are obsessed with learning everything possible about their role so they can be the absolute best.
- They have a clear vision which describes how they plan to improve their people, the organization and the community.
- They have an objective perspective about their own strengths and weaknesses.
- They feel inspired to a higher purpose beyond themselves.
For an organization to be the best, employees must work as if they own the company. For that to happen, managers must treat their employees as if they are all volunteers.
My question for managers:
Do you manage your operations like you own the company and treat your employees like they are volunteers?
Joseph Sherren, CSP, HoF,
Global Speaking Fellow
International Business Transformation Specialist.