Lessons from the Past 94: Who Can Be a Good Manager?
The usual refrain in many companies today is that most of the unemployed are unemployable. They sometimes have poor technical knowledge (even though they have graduated) and even poorer communication skills and human skills. As I have said in earlier articles—technical, human and communication skills (THC) are a must to succeed in a career as a manager!
Many of the young have no time for hobbies (they have been spending all their time attending coaching classes). Their general knowledge leaves a lot to be desired (they don’t read books and take only a cursory glance at the newspapers). Yet, they all want to be 'managers'. They do not realise that the person who knows ‘how” will always get a job. But the person who knows 'why' will always be the boss - the 'manager'.
This is the reason why only some, who graduate from college, will become managers and even fewer will become good managers. These are the ones who follow the rules of good business etiquette, as outlined by an expert, Letitia Baldridge. 
She lists some behavioural traits that define a good manager such as:
# Never expects others to follow rules which he himself does not follow
# Makes time to listen to his subordinates and colleagues 
# Returns telephone calls, emails and SMS, immediately if possible, within 24 hours 
# Answers important mail within four days and other mail within 24 hours 
# Does not pretend to be an expert on what he is not
# Always returns borrowed property—like books or umbrellas—promptly and in good condition
# Never repeats a rumour that will hurt someone’s reputation 
# Knows how to dress appropriately, both on the job and off the job 
# Answers all invitations promptly in writing or on the phone 
# Is punctual or, if delayed, informs in advance that he will be late
# Picks up the bill at a restaurant, when it is his turn, without being overtly miserly.
It may seem to be a big list. In fact, it is not. It is just what anyone who shows consideration for others would do. 
I have had the blessing of having worked with some very good managers, who did much of the above. I have also been unfortunate to work with some impolite, incompetent, highly political and selfish managers who have taken the fun out of a job—even a job that I loved. I can see the shadow fall across their lives in their retirement. 
Prakash Tandon, former chairman of Levers India, once told me, “You retire in the same way as you have lived.” 
The selfish managers live lonely, cold lives and good managers are, most often, living warm and fulfilling lives with friends and well-wishers surrounding them. 
Mr Tandon himself showed how a good manager moves on in life—from the first Indian appointed chairman of Levers, to moving on to be appointed chairman of the State Trading Corporation of the government of India, to later taking over as the chairman of the Punjab National Bank, a sick company which he succeeded in turning around into a profitable operation. 
Yet, he had time to give lectures and was associated with IIM—Ahmedabad, and wrote books that were educative and entertaining like Punjabi Century and others. 
His life reminds me of the story written by DL Moody titled “Sandbars”:
A steamboat was stranded in the Mississippi River and the captain could not get it free. Eventually, a hard-looking fellow came on board and said:
“Captain, I understand you need a pilot to take you out of this difficulty.”
The captain asked - “Are you a pilot?”
“Well, they call me one.”
“Do you know where the snags and sandbars are?”
“No, sir.”
“Well, how do you expect to take me out of here, if you don’t know where the snags and sandbars are?”
“I know where they ain’t,” was the reply.
Over the past 50 years, I have seen that when one has the width and depth of knowledge, one is also able to connect and to apply seemingly unrelated techniques from one industry to another. At a high level of THC, one can become a good—or even an excellent—manager!
(Some part is an extract from The Impatient Manager by Walter Vieira (Sage Publ./ Amazon)
 (Walter Vieira is a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India- FIMC. He was a successful corporate executive for 14 years and then pioneered marketing consulting in India in 1975. As a consultant, he has worked across four continents. He was the first Asian elected Chairman of ICMCI, the world apex body of 45 countries. He is the author of 16 books, a business columnist and has been visiting professor in Marketing in the US, Europe, and Asia for over 40 years. His latest books are ‘Marketing in a Digital/Data World’ with Brian Almeida and ‘Customer Value Starvation Can Kill’ with Gautam Mahajan. He now spends most of his time on NGO work and is presently Chairman, Consumer Education and Research Society, India)
6 months ago
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