Friday, March 20, 2009

Loïc's golden rule of management

I don’t know where I got this motto, whether I read it on a book, or if I got it from one of my mentors. I really can’t remember, but this rule has become the first absolute golden rule in my way of managing people.

“When the team succeeds, it’s the team’s success. When the team fails, you fail.”

Not respecting this rule, in fact not having this rule completely internalized (it has to be a way of life, doesn’t work if you constantly have to remind yourself of it), will make the team loose respect and confidence in you. And if you don’t have this, you can’t go anywhere.

I have seen managers take all glory of a successful project. The result was the team felt expendable. On the next project, they had no interest in working till they dropped: they were not working as a team for the benefit of everybody: they were numbers, assets that could be replaced.

On the other hand I have a little story about myself: I once screwed up big time as a project manager. When facing the client, I was prepared to take the blame, and I deserved it. But my program manager stood up in front of me, took everything on his shoulder and spent two hours getting humiliated by the client. This had several consequences: I was feeling like shit, and this helped a bit to climb up the slope. I also felt I had betrayed my manager, and I tried to produce the best work ever in order not to let him down again. And last but not least, I instantly respected him. He had earned my loyalty, and I would have done anything he requested from that point onward.

And the fact is: this rule is so true!
If the teams succeeds, it’s not because you are a top-notch manager. It’s because the guys were in the trenches, worked overnight to meet the deadlines etc. When the team fails, it is always your fault, because you haven’t detected there is a problem and thus failed to solve it. It’s your job!

Be the oil in the motor: if the motor is good it’s because it has amazing pistons and the best injectors. If the motor breaks, it’s because there is not enough oil in it.

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