Manage Your Business from the Rockies, not the Prairies

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The day job as a manager is all about managing your people to deliver, to meet the needs of your customers or clients and generating success after success! Right? And you have consequences if that doesn't happen.

Worst case scenario is that you lose your job or your business, because your people haven't delivered. So the temptation is understandable. Get in there, dirty your hands and work your socks off making it happen.

Admirable, fulfilling even!

But how much energy have you got? How hard do your really want to work. Indeed, how long can you take the pace of keeping everyone else afloat. Before you fall apart, or it kills you?

Or, despite all your years of strife and giving your heart and soul for your business, you lose it, or your job, or both. It doesn't seem fair does it?

But there is another way - and it's easy.

Use your people better

Space ships sent off into the far universe, use the gravitational pull of planets to accelerate them onwards, just like gravity pulls us to earth. It's free energy!

The limited fuel that the rockets have, is used to ever-so-gently fine tune direction, so that as they approach the planet pulling them in, they alter their course to miss the planet and, with renewed energy, they carry on their mission. Clever stuff eh?

That's what you can do

If you play a bigger game than spending your whole life doing the job that others can and should be doing, in the false belief that you are 'helping out', then you aren't going to cut it. In fact, like I once realised, moving from one sized store to a bigger one - you cannot do it all - it's time to manage the business through the people - it's just too big for me now.

And that was a big and painful realisation for me

But I got it!

It came to me one Easter, when I was running a big store and I was filling up the Easter eggs. It was fun! But I wasn't doing what I was paid for - managing and even leading a great bunch of people, all of whom could do this better than me. It was time to do my job. The time had come to leverage their potential and create value using my unique skills and talents.

As it happened, my office was on the fourth floor (because it had a view!) and the business traded on the lowest two floors. And this became my metaphor for managing from high up. The Rockies, not the Prairies.

Even though I spent a lot of my time on the Prairies, I was, in my mind, way up high. I was managing the people from above. I was managing the great people I had.

I was able to step back from working 'in the business' to 'on the business', as Michael Gerber would say. And it made a great difference to me. I realised that part of it was showing my troops that I was working just as hard as they were, and, indeed, I could do their job pretty well.

Yet, I was also resisting where the stretch was for me - letting go of other people's jobs, and doing my own.

For me, it was a shift to the next level, Sure, I did my hands on stuff from time to time. But it was at my choice and to work with them to show soldarity and focus when the chips were down. But it was after the management stuff was done.

It was my way of bringing the Rockies down to the Prairies, yet enjoying the fruits of both.

Copyright 2005. Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website,

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