Five Expectations of Great Managers

“The culture defines the outcome.” – Eric Schmidt, CEO Google

I recently had an interview with Nick Kugenthiran, CEO of Fuji Xerox Australia who poses five expectations of his managers. But before the big five, everyone needs to be on the same page. Nick first creates a sense of shared vision with a short collaborative exercise: with your team write the headlines, the press release you want to see in five years.  Each should start independently and then compare notes. In his experience, once you reconvene, the team will immediately see intersections of vision once each person shares their personal perspective of the future. Next build on these points of intersection until the intended outcome becomes crystallized, shared and sincere. In such an exercise, with gentle non-intrusive guidance from senior leadership, the vision quickly becomes once of shared construction. Everyone had a part in the vision creation.

It’s at this point that a senior leader can build upon a shared vision to deliver the five great actionable expectations of managers:

  1. Lead Change: Take the lead.  Leading the change toward the shared vision will entail taking chances, and that needs to be expected. Make it clear that you expect both risk and tolerable failure – above the waterline failure. Above the waterline means the scope of the risk, and potential downside, remains above the waterline and unable to sink the ship.
  2. Act on Principle: The second expectation is that the initiatives and correlating risk and behavior is founded in the values and integrity of the team and organization. It should be abundantly clear that risk and initiative is expected and always safe if executed in full faith of the team’s articulated values. In Nick’s case at Fuji Xerox, their mandate is that business initiatives should be servant to What is Good for People (to be an employer of choice), Good for Planet, and Good for Profit (their target is 80% recurrent business)
  3. Build Capability: On the path to innovation and value development, the best managers continue to build company capability. Be it new solution options for customers, new tweaks to the delivery code… In Nick’s case, as the General Manager of a global Fortune 500 company, his vision includes gestating new leading capability which can be tested on a regional basis and then elevated to a global community of solutions.
  4. Be Clear About What Is Not Changing: People need to understand there are solid underpinnings upon which we base our change initiatives – the rock-solid things we can count on. It’s fine to emphasize bold decision-making on the frontiers of growth but people need to understand they are indeed supported by sound business integrity, and team values.
  5. Reward Execution: Make it clear we reward execution and results. Period. After the values talk, the engagement and collaboration emphasis, it must be clear that since we are the owners of our destiny, execution becomes the highest expectation and reward of valued managers, business owners, and contributors.

Nick reminds us that these expectations require continual renewal – it’s not a one-shot exercise and conversation.  Nick is one of the best EchoLeaders around – one who has found his own voice, recognizes his strengths, and builds powerful echoes within his team.  Echoes only sustain when reinforced.