Free Micro-eMBA Module #4

Building Basic Skills in Management and Leadership

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision.

This learning module is in the organization development program. However, this module can also be used by anyone as a self-study exercise to learn more about basic management and leadership skills.

Sections of This Module Include the Following

Introduction
Outcomes
Materials for Review
Suggested Topics for Reflection and Discussion
Activities to Build Systems and Practices
Assessments
Tracking Open Action Items



INTRODUCTION

In new businesses, "management" is often considered "whatever needs to be done just to keep things afloat". However, for your business to grow and remain healthy, you must master certain basic skills in management and leadership -- skills that will help you avoid the crisis situations where you have to do "whatever it takes to stay afloat". The basic skills include problem solving and decision making, planning, meeting management, delegation, communications and managing yourself.

Those basics are also the foundation from which to develop more advanced practices in management and leadership. When organizational personnel struggle, it's often because they've forgotten the basics -- not because they aren't implementing state-of-the-art techniques in management and leadership.

NOTE ABOUT THE LARGE SIZE OF THIS MODULE: This module references numerous basic skills that leaders and managers must master in order to be effective in their organizations and their lives. These skills can be practiced throughout this program and in other areas of learners' lives. Readers who are interested in gaining broader contexts of management and leadership can review optional readings suggested in the "Materials for Review" section below.

NOTE ABOUT ORDER OF MODULES: Therefore, it is common to start management training programs with an overview of the board of directors (if the program includes focus on corporations, which are governed by boards of directors) -- the board of directors is legally charged to govern a corporation. However, in this program, this learning module about basic skills in management and leadership is presented before the learning module about boards of directors. The reason for this order of modules is as follows. Frequently businesses are started by someone with a strong vision for a new product. That person often goes on to become the first chief executive of the new business. Typically, that person also takes a very strong role (often the leading role) in the initial organization and development of the board of directors. Therefore, modules in this program are organized to help the founder (and often the first chief executive) to effectively apply basic skills in management and leadership when organizing the board of directors.

NOTE ABOUT LEARNING SUPERVISION -- Supervision is a major aspect of managing and leading. There are certain roles and responsibilities -- and experiences -- that are highly unique to the role of supervision and highly critical to the success of the organization. Therefore, the topic of staffing and supervision will also be addressed in an upcoming module in this program.

Also see
Related Library Topics



OUTCOMES

Learners who complete this module will achieve the following outcomes:

Gain Basic Skills in:

  1. Problem Solving and Decision Making
  2. Planning
  3. Delegation
  4. Internal Communications
  5. Meeting Management
  6. Managing Yourself

Optional:

  1. Review Advanced Topics in Management and Leadership
  2. Design Your Management and Leadership Development Plans


MATERIALS FOR REVIEW

  • The following materials will help you address each of the topics and learning activities in this module.
  • NOTE: Several of the following materials for review are sections of a larger document, Basic Guide to Leadership and Supervision. An upcoming learning module "Staffing and Supervision of Employees" also references various sections of that document. Therefore, the reader might best benefit from printing that document for ongoing reference during this module and the upcoming module about supervision.

Basic Skills in Management and Leadership

Read Basic Guide to Leadership and Supervision -- specifically the sections:

Introduction to Management and Supervision

What is "Management"? What do Managers Do? (don't have to follow links out)

Core Skills in Management and Supervision

You don't have to follow links out of the following sections:
- - - Problem Solving and Decision Making
- - - Planning
- - - Effective Delegation
- - - Basics of Internal Communications
- - - Meeting Management
- - - Managing Yourself

Optional Readings -- Broad Context of Management

Management (an Introduction) -- particularly the sections:
- - - Basics -- Definitions (and Misinterpretations) in Management
- - - "Leading" Versus "Managing" (read at least 6 articles)
- - - Historical and Contemporary Theories in Management
- - - Basic Overview of Contemporary Theories in Management (read contingency, systems and chaos theories)
- - - Various Styles of Management (autocratic/permissive, east and west styles, and life cycles)
- - - New Paradigm in Management (driving forces and traits of new paradigm)

Optional Readings -- Broad Context of Leadership

Leadership -- particularly the sections:
- - - Definitions of Leadership
- - - Major Theories (especially "Overviews of Major Theories")
- - - Overview of Leadership Approaches
- - - Conventional Traits and Styles (especially "Overview of Conventional Styles")
- - - Is Leading Different than Managing? (pros and cons of this debate)
- - - Understanding Leadership Competencies and Qualities
- - - - - - Domain: Leading Yourself
- - - - - - Domain: Leading Other Individuals
- - - - - - Domain: Leading Groups and Teams
- - - - - - Domain: Leading Large Groups and Organizations
- - - Core Competencies to Lead in Any Domain



SUGGESTED TOPICS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION

  • Learners are strongly encouraged to discuss the following questions with peers, board members, management and employees, as appropriate.

Problem Solving and Decision Making

1. What are the seven steps to problem solving and decision making (as presented in your materials for review)? Describe what occurs in each step.

2. How do you typically solve problems? Do you have a standardized way of solving problems, that is, a method that you use? How do you know that your approach is effective?

3. Think of several major problems that you faced over the past three months. Where did you struggle when solving the problem?

4. As your business grows, the types of problems that you'll face will become more demanding and complex. What can you do to be more careful about how you will solve problems and make decisions?

5. What problems might you foresee in applying the seven steps presented in your materials for review?

Basics of Planning

  • For assistance in answering the following questions, see Planning.

1. Describe each of the following terms: Goals. Objectives. Strategies. Resources. Budgets.

2. What are the eight steps in the typical, basic planning process (as presented in your materials for review)?

3. Who should be involved in planning a particular effort?

4. What does the acronym "SMARTER" stand for, that is, what does each letter represent?

5. How can you build in accountability to your planning processes?

6. What should be evaluated when evaluating a planning process?

7. Where is the "real treasure" during planning? HINT: Fill in the blank "the real treasure of planning is the planning _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ".

8. What is the frequently missing step in the planning process?

Delegation

1. What is delegation?

2. What are some benefits of delegation?

3. Why is it sometimes difficult for managers to learn to delegate?

4. What are the nine steps to delegation (as listed in your materials for review)?

5. What might you foresee as your biggest challenge to learning how to delegate? Delegation is a critical skill in the effective management of organizations. What can you do to start overcoming these challenge(s)?

Basics of Internal Communications

1. What should be included in status reports (according to the materials for review)? How often should status reports be shared and with whom? Your wishes may disagree with those asserted in the materials for review. That's fine -- just be able to specify your own terms for status reports, including what's in them, what's in them, how often they are shared with whom.

2. What might you include in regular monthly meetings with all of your employees in attendance? Do you agree that you should have regular meetings with all employees in attendance? If not, then how will you really ensure that employees are aware of activities in the organization? Do they know now? Are you really sure? Seriously consider holding regular meetings. These meetings can go a long way toward building a strong sense of community and ensuring effective communications throughout the organization.

3. How do you ensure that all key employees are aware of important information and activities in the organization? As noted in the materials for review, new managers and supervisors often assume that everyone else knows what they know. This is a mistake. Seriously consider holding regular meetings with key staff. Don't just rely on good intentions to communicate or "working harder to communicate". Actually make some changes in policies and procedures to ensure effective communications.

Meeting Management

1. How can you ensure that the right people are included in your meetings?

2. What's the best way to design an agenda (according to the materials for review)?

3. What kinds of activities should be included in the opening of a meeting?

4. What is the purpose of groundrules for a meeting. How can they be developed?

5. What are some ideas to ensure that meeting time is managed as effectively as possible?

6. How can you evaluate the meeting process? How can you evaluate results of the overall meeting process?

7. What activities are including when closing a meeting?

8. What challenges do you see in implementing the meeting-management recommendations in the materials for review? What do you dislike about meetings? What do you like? What are you hearing from others about the quality of the meetings in your organization? What can you do to make your meetings more effective?

Managing and Leading Yourself

1. Why is the role of first-time manager and/or supervisor so stressful sometimes?

2. How many hours a week are you working now? Is that a problem? What do those nearest to you think about the number of hours that you're working? How many hours a week do you think you should work on average? What is the largest number of hours that you should work in a week? The number of hours that you work in a week can be a clear indicator of current or oncoming problems in your stress level and effectiveness as a manager. What measures can you take to ensure that you don't get so consumed by your job that you lose perspective and ultimately lose your overall effectiveness as a manager? Strongly consider involving someone else in helping to determine the total number of hours that you will work in a week.

3. How do you know if you're stressed? What are the signs? Does anyone else in your life and/or your work know to look for those signs?

4. How might you recruit a mentor or coach? Think about this question very seriously. Having a mentor or coach can be the single, most effective measure you can take to ensure that you manage yourself and your job in a highly effective manner.

5. What's the difference between matters that are urgent and those that are important? What should be your approach to handling each of these two types of issues? What advice is given in the materials for review regarding these two types of issues?

Optional Readings -- Broad Contexts of Management and Leadership

1. Give brief definitions for the following terms (compare the terms with each other, noting how they are similar and different:). Board of Directors. Executives. Managers. Leaders. Supervisors. See Basics -- Definitions (and Misinterpretations) in Management.

2. What does the term "management" mean (include in your answer, the four major functions of management)? See Basics -- Definitions (and Misinterpretations) in Management.

3. Briefly describe each of the following four management functions. Planning. Organizing. Leading. Coordinating (or controlling) activities. Of course, these functions are not carried out apart from each other -- they're highly integrated. See Basics -- Definitions (and Misinterpretations) in Management.

4. New managers and leaders often struggle to find the one, best way to manage and lead. Over time, they realize the "best way" depends very much on the situation, for example, the life cycle of the organization, the specific nature and needs of the organization -- and their own nature and needs, as well. A very basic understanding of theories and styles of management and leadership can help greatly when finding the "best way". Very briefly, what is the contingency theory of management? Systems theory? Chaos theory? What are some of the major styles of management? What is the importance of knowing the life cycle of an organization when leading and managing an organization? See Basic Overview of Contemporary Theories in Management, Major Theories, Various Styles of Management and Conventional Traits and Styles.

5. Many management experts believe that we're coming into a "new paradigm". What is this new paradigm? See New Paradigm in Management.

6. What is the argument that some people put forth to explain their view that managing and leading are different? What do you think? See Views That Leading is Different Than Managing.

7. By now, you might consider your own definition of "What is leading (in an organizational setting)?" Consider in your answer, setting direction for others and influencing others to follow that direction. See Definitions of Leadership.



ACTIVITIES TO BUILD SYSTEMS AND PRACTICES

  • Learners are strongly encouraged to complete the following activities, and share and discuss results with peers, board members, management and employees, as appropriate.
  • As you proceed through the following activities, be sure to note any incomplete actions in the Action Item Planning List.

Developing Your Basics Skills in Management and Leadership

1. Conduct the following activities with each of the following practices: problem solving and decision making, planning, delegating, internal communications and meeting management..
a) Develop a basic procedure that is customized to your chosen approach to carrying out the practice, While developing your procedure, seriously consider the advice and guidelines provided in the materials for review regarding that practice.
b) Test your procedure by applying it to a current major effort in your organization or your life. What problems did you encounter? Does the procedure need to be updated?
c) Share the procedure with a friend and ask for their feedback.
d) Update the procedure as a result of your testing and feedback.
e) Communicate the procedure throughout your organization, as appropriate.
For assistance, see Problem Solving and Decision Making, Planning, Effective Delegation, Basics of Internal Communications and Meeting Management.

Learning to Manage and Lead Yourself

1. Design a personalized stress management plan. In the plan, include description of:
a) The signs that indicator that you're overly stressed. Include the number of hours that you want to average in work per week.
b) How you will ensure that you notice each of the signs.
c) How you will conclude whether you need to make changes in your work and life styles.
d) Where you will go for help.
e) At least one friend and ask them to check in with you every two weeks to see how you're doing. You might suggest that they do the same plan and you can reciprocate by helping them, as well.
For additional assistance, see Managing Yourself and Leading Yourself.

2. Consider getting a mentor or a coach. See Getting a Mentor see Hiring a Coach and Getting Coached.

3. Name at least three sources for networking and/or support for you, for example, a network of friends, association, club, etc. Do you feel comfortable turning to these sources when you need help? If not, contact at least one source that you feel comfortable approaching when you're, for example, in need of suggestions for resources, feeling burned out, etc.

Optional -- Management Development Planning

1. You can learn a great deal about management by using a wide variety of informal methods. The following link is to many suggestions and materials you can use for informal training.
Ideas for Activities to Learn About Management

2. Usually, the most effective way to learn a topic or skill is through use of a formal training plan. The following link is to a detailed procedure and materials you can use to develop your own highly customized management development plan. The procedure includes use of the assessments listed in the following section "Assessments".
Customizing Your Own Management Development Plan

Optional -- Leadership Development Planning

1. You can learn a great deal about leadership by using a wide variety of informal methods. The following link is to many suggestions and materials you can use for informal training.
Ideas for Activities to Learn About Leadership

2. Usually, the most effective way to learn a topic or skill is through use of a formal training plan. The following link is to a detailed procedure and materials you can use to develop your own highly customized management development plan. The procedure includes use of the assessments listed in the following section "Assessments".
Customizing Your Own Leadership Development Plan



ASSESSMENTS

Consider any or all of the following assessments as means to evaluate the extent of your management and leadership skills.
1. Various Needs Assessments to Help Identify Leadership Development Goals

2. Needs Assessments for Management Training and Development



TRACKING OPEN ACTION ITEMS

1. One of the first indicators that an organization or a person is struggling is that open action items are not tracked and reviewed. (Open action items are required actions that have not yet been completed.) Instead, people only see and react to the latest "fires" in their workplaces or their lives. Whether open action items are critical to address now or not, they should not entirely be forgotten. Therefore, update and regularly review a list of open action items (identified while proceeding through this program) that includes listing each open action item, who is responsible to complete it, when it should be completed and any associated comments. When updating the list, consider action items as identified during discussions, learning activities and assessments in this module. Share and regularly review this action item list with the appropriate peers, board, management and employees in your organization. You can use the following Action Item Planning List. (At that Web address, a box might open, asking you which software application to open the document.)

2. If you have questions, consider posing them in the national, free, online discussion group HRNET, which is attended by many human resource and organization development experts.



(Learners in the organization development program can return to the home page of the organization development program.)


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For the Category of Management:

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books



General (For-Profit and Nonprofit)

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Nonprofit-Specific

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a "bubble" of information might be displayed. You can click on the title of the book in that bubble to get more information, too.



Also see, for Managing

For Managing Yourself
Personal Development -- Related Books

For Managing Other Individuals
Supervision -- Related Books

For Managing Teams
Facilitation and Teams -- Related Books

For Leading Leadership -- Recommended Books


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