Thursday, June 20, 2013

Managers Traits

After spending some time observing each of the successful managers I met, and reading case studies, I wanted to try and capture those common traits that made their management style a success. I was trying as much as possible to absorb those qualities to hopefully one day become a successful manager. And here they are:
  1. Have Passion for what you do. Really? What else could keep a person motivated at all times and lead a team of motivated individuals? Passion is seen in someone's tone, eye contact, and persistence. 
  2.  Acknowledge the possibility of failure. BUT...of course there is a but, you can't just expect to fail without having a plan B. Most managers I worked with seemed to know they can fail but always had a plan B, C, and even D. They rarely share them. 
  3. Keep calm. You might be just like me and can't contain your over-excitement or disappointment. But great managers control perfectly their positive and negative emotions. Being calm not only helps make rational decisions but it also helps keep your team calm.
  4. Motivate your team to solve a problem before asking for help. I had a manager who had a sign on his door saying "Do not come to me with a problem without a solution" It definitely made me think twice before knocking on his door and ask for his help. 
  5. Do not over promise but show optimism. This is probably the hardest thing to do. Successful managers know how to communicate their confidence on the ability to complete a project or reach a goal without promising overly optimistic results. 
  6. Be consistent in the message(s) you communicate and communicate it often. Nothing is more harmful to a team than a manager changing goals and showing inconsistency in communication. You want your team to move in one direction towards the one goal or set of goals. Communicate that goal clearly and frequently. You are repeating yourself for a good reason. 
  7. Delegate. One of the types of personalities in the workplace are leaders and executors. When a manager's personality falls within a mix of the two types, it becomes hard to delegate. But to be a successful manager you need to learn how to delegate, not only tasks but also the decision-making power. 
  8. Get to know your team on a personal level. You cannot be surrounded by loyal team members, if you do not show that you care about them as individuals with lives outside of their cubicles. 
  9. High level of integrity. Managers have to lead by example and if you want your team to work with great ethics, you need to have that trait yourself. 
  10. Mentor, don't just manage. Do I need to expand on this one? 
There are more traits unique to each manager, but these are the ones I found common among most if not all successful managers I know. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Failed...Now what?

I find great passion in horse riding, It is probably one of the very few animals that I find fascinating. Horses built a true connection with men throughout the history. But that is not the point of the post, although I could go on and on about how much I love horses.

Failure is the point. We all have failed at something whether you want to admit it or not. As long as we breath we will make mistakes, or others make mistakes and we have to pay the price and taste failure. Who to blame is not exactly important. But I have a story I want to share because I feel people can learn from stories even when they are not exactly related to the actual situation.

I was enjoying a nice horse ride in the forest with my instructor. It was a sunny April day, rode my favorite horse to go on the weekly "balade" to enjoy the beautiful weather. That particular horse was very stubborn and had a lot of character, probably the reason why I keep choosing to ride him. Most days he behaved well with me. Horses can be pretty sneaky and pull up their "crazy horse" card with certain people when they choose to. The ride was going really well, when my horse saw a few dogs barking at us, he got agitated and managed to make me fall from his back. It was the first time I had fallen from a horse, and besides from the embarrassment, it was painful. The horse got so scared from our reaction to his behavior, that he hid behind a tree waiting. My reaction was very simple: I am not riding that horse again and was convinced to stay in the middle of the forest rather than ride that horse back. My instructor came to me and "ordered" me to ride back right away. I refused, he insisted....I was right back on the horse. I was very angry at the instructor for making me ride the horse while being terrified and in pain. He then explained to me, that he saved me from fearing horses in the future. He said most people who fall from horses are afraid to ride them again and probably would just quit horse riding..Now I do not know how valid is his statement, but It definitely helped me. Because not only I rode back the horse but we went back closer to the dogs who scared the horse and followed the instructor's words on how to calm my horse down and manage his fear. I did.

Things you do after you fail are what matter. Are you going to immediately try again? or just let the fear from failing haunt you? Just when you know you failed and owned it, do not let the fear get to your heart and stop you from trying all over again. Now you may want to try something different, like riding a different horse, but never give up on your passion. Every time you fail you learn something in the process. While you may try one more time to only find yourself failing again, you will without doubt learn something each time you fail...until you actually succeed. I have never fallen from a horse since then, but I am certainly not afraid from it happening again.

Failed?.... Try it all over again immediately.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

It is Ok to Make a Fool out of Yourself

I got a connection request on LinkedIn that brought back a memory so significant in my life, yet almost forgotten until I opened LinkedIn on my browser this morning. A connection request from a friend who facilitated my first introduction to the entrepreneurial spirit.

We were high school students, about fifteen years old when he got this "crazy" idea of building a resort on the beach of Casablanca. He believed so much in it, it was all he talked about. He was not afraid to share his dream with me. I listened and shared some immature thoughts. But he took it a bit further by making his own feasibility study, added his entrepreneurial optimism and enthusiasm to the mix to turn it into a project worth $150 Billion Dirhams, at least on paper.

One afternoon, while wandering around the break court, he came to me and said: "Sara, I want you to come with me, I will be on national TV". I was happy for him, but also flattered he asked me to give him company. The TV show was called "Challenger". It was a business plan contest hosted on the national Moroccan TV. Contestants applied from different cities and different fields. He was the youngest applicant and probably the least experienced. But as a fifteen years old, my thoughts were very typical :

" OMG, I am going to be on national television!".

Once we get to the studio, my friend enters the recording room and was bombarded with questions. Most of which were to embarrass him. After all, he was asking for an investment of $150 Billion Dirhams to build a resort. At that point, I started regretting going along. I did not want to be associated with a "crazy dude", who will be aired on TV for people to get a laugh from. It was pretty embarrassing. But he did not seem to care,  he answered the judges' ironic questions with confidence and professionalism. His first words to me after the interview were : "They don't get it, I will make it happen without them". All I was thinking about is the need to get out of there as quickly as possible. I immediately stopped believing in my friend and his "crazy" thoughts and lost hope he will ever make it. It was not until later, that I realized this friend has taught me a great lesson about entrepreneurship. He taught me that It is OK to make a fool of yourself, as long as you believe in yourself and in the greatness of your dream.

He did not let the TV hosts' silly comments, the investors' ironic questions, and the million of viewers' laughs discourage him from pursuing his dream. He had fallen but quickly and surely stood up even stronger. I was surprised to see him come back to me with a new idea a month later. This time, it was much more realistic. To my biggest surprise, in four months he started a summer camp company where he toured the country, animating shows and hosting beach parties. He followed his passion and made a business out of it.

Eight years later, I learned he is CEO of a business expo company organizing trade shows nationally and internationally. He certainly learned a lot from his experience with Challenger but I learned more seeing his persistence and indifference to people's devastating negative comments about his ability to make it as an entrepreneur. He proved everyone wrong, including myself.

Never be afraid of  making a fool out of yourself because you dream bigger than everyone around you. And it never hurts to believe in the beauty of your dreams, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship. Today, I certainly believe in his ability to build and run a resort in Casablanca.

Music Background: