The hardest-working bosses are often the least efficient. What kind of manager are you? Fully 90 percent of managers squander their time in ineffective activities. Only 10 percent spend their time in a committed, purposeful manner. In this tough business environment, we need to understand why this is and what we can do about it.
First, some definitions. Effective managers - those who make difficult, even impossible, things happen - rely on a combination of two traits: focus and energy. Focus is paying attention over the long haul to one or two key projects. Energy is the vigor that comes from intense personal commitment. All managers have some combination of these qualities. When you plot them in a matrix, you can learn a lot about what kind of manager you (and others) are. Here are the choices:
1. Low Focus/Low Energy
These managers (about 30 percent) do their routine tasks but fail to take any initiative. They don't make waves and hardly ever act strategically. They keep their heads below the horizon as much as possible. To do otherwise would get them involved.
2. High Focus/Low Energy
Managers like these (20 percent) are basically apathetic and approach their tasks half-heartedly. They see what's going on but for one reason or another - often because they've been shot down for taking initiative - they just don't care to do anything about it. Count them among the walking wounded.
3. Low Focus/High Energy
This group of managers (at 40 percent, the largest) confuses frantic movement with effective action. Rarely do they stop long enough to see the forest because they're reacting to all the trees. They are very shortsighted and over committed, and therefore spend most of their time putting out fires.
4. High Focus/High Energy
These managers (at 10 percent, the smallest group) put in more effort than their colleagues but also know how to achieve critical long-term goals. They're clear about their intentions and have the willpower to make them a reality. They're sophisticated in people skills and know how to get the job done through other people.
No matter which group you find yourself in, it isn't set in stone. Most of this is learned behavior, so growth into the High Focus/High Energy category is possible. And if you give people a clear challenge and enough choices, they too will almost certainly learn how to improve their focus and increase their energy. In short, they will become the most effective managers we need in business today.