How to Stop Managing & Be Productive Instead

Toddlers, teens or adults?

We’ve already said WHY Management Is a Bad Idea. Here we identify HOW to stop managing so you and everyone else is more productive.

The art of leadership is to know how few times the leader should actually make the decision.

Managers make decisions. Leaders get others to do it as often as they can because none of us is as smart as all of us.

We could virtually do away with managers if they would just lead instead. I believe we could replace at least every five managers with one leader, and possibly ten to one in many businesses. 15 of the top 20 reasons people leave their job involves middle managers. Think how much more profitable (and fun) it would be to eliminate middle management all together.

Modern management is traced back to Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Scientific Management Principle from 1903 and 1911, that assumes employees are a) stupid and b) lazy, and therefore we need smart and motivated people to manage the stupid and lazy ones. In a good business you don’t need managers because the leader doesn’t believe people are stupid and lazy.

Leaders get out of the way. Here’s how to move from managing to leading. As you are having a conversation with a Stakeholder, ask yourself these questions, which move from Problem through Question to Solution:

Chasing Three Years Olds Around the Store – Did I have to come find out they had a PROBLEM? That’s the lowest level of management – running around finding out other people’s problems. If you do that, you have a bunch of toddlers working for you, and you’re the one who made them that way by chasing them around. Stop it.

Managing Eight Year Olds – Did they come find me with a PROBLEM? Not much better. Children come whining to their parents that Johnny hit them. You’ve trained them to do it. Stop it.

Managing 13 Year Olds – Did I have to figure out the right QUESTION? Asking the right question is 90% of getting the right answer. Anybody can identify problems, but if they aren’t asking the right questions to fix them, they aren’t adding much value. If you have to form the right questions, you’re not leading, you’re managing. Stop it and get others to form the questions.

Manager High Schoolers – Did they bring me the right QUESTION with no solution? You’ve taught others to not think; you’re the only one bright enough to solve things. Require that they come up with solutions.

Managing College Kids – Did they bring some possible SOLUTIONS for me to pick from? We’re getting there, but still you’ve taught them to not take risks and actually solve things. They’re afraid to fix things because you’ve taught them only you can do it, because you’re more experienced and less likely to do something stupid. You forget that you had to make mistakes. If you are ever going to have someone else in your business that can lighten the load, they need to take risks and make mistakes, too. Stop being a control freak and teach others to lead by letting them solve problems WITHOUT YOU.

Managing Adults – Did they bring me a report on how they SOLVED something? Guess what, you’re a leader. You can now focus on the business of building a great business instead of creating stupid and lazy people by all your managing.

Moving From Manager to Leader
You should be asking these questions every time you talk to someone, with the objective of getting to “Managing Adults” as quickly as possible (might take a year or more, depending on how long you’ve been chasing the toddlers).

If you want to run a day care center, it’s your option. People aren’t stupid and lazy and they aren’t children. You make them that way by managing them. Stop it. And if some of them decide to not grow up, kick them out of the house and get others who will be adults. You’ll all have a lot more fun, and make a lot more money – with no managers.

You should lead no matter what the size of your business.

Build Your Business Around Tools, Not Talent

Getting off the treadmill

Many business owners get their first taste of success simply be being talented; they’ve got the goods. But the ones that go on to build highly successful companies will not do it on their talent, or even the talent of others.

Too many business owners are involved in talent shows – building their businesses on being center stage and showing their customers how they good they are. Why shouldn’t they? It’s those unique abilities that first allowed them to get ahead. But talent is not a good thing to build a business around.

Tools, Not Talent
In 1977, Ms. Fields’ first venture was a tiny little shop in Palo Alto, CA where she made the cookies by herself. She attracted customers because of what she personally could do. But early on she did something very strategic and simple to build a great company, that all of us should do, whether we want a billion dollar corporation or just a great local cookie shop; she started building her business around tools instead of around her talent.

Rather than rely on her on ability to make cookies, she wrote the recipe down so that others could replicate her genius. Her talent went out of her head (talent), through her heart (passion) and out her hands (process) on to a piece of paper, freeing her to build a great company. The simple tool she created with that recipe gave her a business that could make money without her being there. In ten years the company grew to over $100 million sales and a staggering 18% ($18 million) profit.

Our Secret Sauce
Too many business owners keep themselves deeply inserted into the process, unwilling to divulge the secret sauce that is behind their talent. In many cases, they’re just too busy being successful to even figure out how to pull that secret sauce out through their hands on to a piece of paper. And sadly, many are sure that simply no one else could do what they do; their talent is unique and cannot be transferred to the hands of someone else.

Others Can Paint Your Mona Lisa
There are painters who, if given the proper tools and training, are able to produce such perfect replicas of the most cherished paintings on earth that only a few experts can discern they aren’t the originals, and then only after studying them closely. Even the greatest of talent can be replicated.

It was your talent that designed your Mona Lisa, and maybe that initial “design” talent is not replicable. But the ongoing delivery of that Mona Lisa is easily replicated if you are willing to write your recipe down, turn your talent into a tool or process, and train others to use it. You just have to get over yourself and the idea that no one else could deliver on the unique process you’ve devised.

Be Your Creative Self – Let Others Make the Cookies
Go ahead, be a wildly talented, creative genius. Come up with amazing things or transformational services that make people come running. Then get your ego and yourself out of the way and take the time to figure out how to train others to do it.

In 10 years, Ms. Fields was able to expand from one cookie recipe to 14, and from one store to a few hundred, because she was no longer making the cookies. But she had to get over herself and believe somebody else could do it.

Build your business around tools, not talent. Write down your recipe. Train others to make the cookies, and instead of making the cookies, use your creative genius to develop more recipes and expand your business.

Only One Type of Bankruptcy Is Fatal

And it’s not financial

Tons of people have gone bankrupt and succeeded anyway. It’s because they avoided the one type of bankruptcy that would have ended it all. And it has nothing to do with money.

The following Presidents all went bankrupt financially:
Abraham Lincoln A bunch of really bad general stores
Ulysses Grant After he was President
Thomas Jefferson Multiple times before and after being President
William McKinley Just three years before becoming President.

A very few business people who went bankrupt and were still successful:
Henry Ford His Detroit Automobile Company went bankrupt in 1899. Henry Ford Company was failing when he left in 1903 to start Ford Motor Company.
Walt Disney Bankrupt in 1922, created Mickey Mouse in 1928, and in the 60’s had to go to 302 banks before the 303rd would give him money for his insane idea to start an “amusement” park called Disneyland.
Milton Hershey Went bankrupt twice trying make candy, then hit it big with Hershey’s Chocolate.
H.J. Heinz In 1875 his horseradish company went bankrupt. The next year he started a ketchup company that does $10 billion a year now.
P.T Barnum Bankrupt in 1855. Then in 1871 at age 61 he started a circus. a stupid idea no bank would support, especially with a guy who had been bankrupt. It raked in over $10 million in today’s dollars the first year.

Commitment Bankruptcy
I personally know a number of people who went bankrupt financially, but they all share the same trait as those above; they never went bankrupt personally.

I don’t mean personal financial bankruptcy, I mean “commitment bankruptcy”, which would have destroyed their personal vision, personal motivation, personal willingness to pick themselves up and do it again, and as a result, their personal commitment to keep going.

Looking at the example of these people’s lives, financial bankruptcy is clearly never fatal. But if you lose your vision, stop believing you can do it, or just get tired and quit, you’ve suffered the only bankruptcy that is permanent – Commitment Bankruptcy.

Gradually, Then Suddenly
Stay in the habit of getting back on the horse regularly. If you quit the small things, it will create a habit of quitting that can lead you to quitting the big things. We suffer Commitment Bankruptcy the same way we suffer financial bankruptcy – gradually; then suddenly.

Financial bankruptcy is temporary. Commitment bankruptcy is fatal.

Get back on the horse today and ride.