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We talk about lawyers practicing law and doctors practicing medicine, but we never talk about
managers practicing their
management style.

SPOTLIGHT ON

Dick Daniels

01

Take the job for a trial run 

02

Practice being a manager 

03

You can never over-communicate 

04

What makes for an effective Board of Directors 

Who is Dick?

Dick has worked in tech for his entire career, whether as part of the military or in industries spanning manufacturing, to financial services, and then healthcare, but he always asked himself the same question - was the tech he was working on being used to do really important things? 

For Dick changing industries was never just about advancing his career, it was about finding where he could make a meaningful contribution. But as he climbed the ranks he began to realize leadership is its own profession and the jobs don’t always look like you imagine they will. Dick learned this abruptly when he was told that he was being made the Head of IT for his company. The thrill of realizing he achieved all he was working toward was quickly dulled by the news that his first task would be to lay off 26 people, and he had to decide who immediately. The lesson? Be careful what you wish for. 

Here he shares more on how to make sure you know what you don’t know about career advancement, why practicing management needs to be more mainstream, why you can never over communicate, and what makes for a strong board. 

Dick’s drive home the night of his promotion to Head of IT was one of the longest of his life as he came to the realization this was the job he’d been waiting for his whole career, and it already looked nothing like he pictured. Now as he helps people navigate their own career paths and goals, he works to guide them to understand that success in the job they want might look very different than success in the job they have.

 

The solution is to give people a trial run, let them do the job temporarily and see if they like it before making the jump. This helps people transition in a way that’s not as startling as the new role might require them to let go of things they really enjoyed doing before while learning entirely new skills like financials, budgeting and managing people. With each promotion there is always more to learn and it’s often a whole new job.  

01

Take the job for a trial run

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Leadership is its own profession, and the jobs don’t always look like you imagine they will.

02

Practice being a manager 

As a society we are very comfortable with lawyers practicing law and doctors practicing medicine, but we never talk about managers practicing their management style. Yet there IS a practice of management. You have to practice to see what works and what doesn’t, and because every person is different you have to have a lot of tools in your arsenal. While one person on your team might need you to say something harsh to get their attention, a harsh delivery might crush another person, and you have to treat each one accordingly.

 

Arguably the only thing that remains constant as a manager is your need to have a vision, a clear destination, and a strategy of how to get there that everyone understands. 

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The only thing that remains constant as a manager is your need to have a vision, a clear destination, and a strategy of how to get there that everyone understands. 

Even if you think you have clearly communicated your vision and strategy to your team, everyone has not gotten it. People hear and respond to things differently so you have to communicate, monitor to see if they are responding, and then adjust your communication to make sure you are all on the same page.

 

One of the hardest lessons of leadership is realizing people won’t always hear things the way you THINK they will. I once gave what I thought to be a very strong presentation laying out the strategy and how we were going to achieve it. Afterwards, I overheard someone say, “I came all the way over here and he didn’t say a damn thing.” No matter how much effort was put into the presentation, some people need more. If you realize that everyone isn’t going to hear you the same way, you can adapt to meet them where they are, but it’s going to feel like you repeat yourself a lot. And you will, and that’s ok. 

03

You can never over-communicate 

04

What makes for an effective Board of Directors 

Most Board Members got there by being in senior management positions, but their job is not to manage. That’s the CEO’s job. The Board’s job is to provide oversight and governance and it’s critical that board members understand the difference, especially in smaller companies where the CEO may also want mentoring from the Board. Successful oversight tells the management team what reports they need to see from board meeting to board meeting and the results they are looking for within those reports – all while offering guidance on how management might want to approach things, but ultimately leaving discretion up to the CEO and their team. 

Outside of how to individually contribute to a Board, it’s important to know how to build a good one. Boards should obviously be built around the needs of an organization, whether it be people with financial background, go to market experience, or specific industry regulation expertise, but what all Boards need is diversity. And don’t just consider ethnic or experience diversity, though both are important - also consider age. On many Boards people are older, but if you have a product or service designed for younger people, you need the perspective of your target audience. You also don’t want a Board that leaves at the same time because of tenure or age. Rather, you want continuity for a longer period, so by definition you want a balance of different age groups.  

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[To communicate effectively], it’s going to feel like you repeat yourself a lot. And you will, and that’s ok.

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