Effective Management Starts With You

Effective Management Starts With You


Managing others is a difficult job. No one who has ever tried to get even a small group of people to work together toward a common goal is likely to dispute that point.

Of course, many of us have a hard time even managing ourselves. How can we be expected to lead other people if we can’t even manage our own business?

The term “self-leadership” may be relatively new, but the concept of self-management is an issue leaders at all levels have struggled with throughout human history. Self-management can be though of as encompassing several areas: self-control and self-discipline, effective goal-setting, and time management.

What lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do. – Aristotle

Self-control is, at its most basic, the ability to restrain ourselves from acting on impulse – expressing every emotion, giving in to every temptation, or following every urge that occurs to us. The human mind and our emotions are changeable; our behavior has to be subject to our control, or we would behave chaotically.

As managers, self-control is tremendously important. When others look to us for guidance and leadership, we must take great care to speak and behave constructively, thoughtfully, and ethically. This may mean that we can’t always let it show when we’re frustrated, confused, or overwhelmed. We must always express ourselves in ways that support the team and its goals – and sometimes that means taking a deep breath and counting to ten before we say or do something detrimental.

The one quality which sets one man apart from another…. Is not talent, formal education, nor intellectual brightness – it is self-discipline. – Theodore Roosevelt

Self-discipline is related to self-control, but has more to do with what we decide to do than what we decide not to do. Self-discipline is about starting projects and tasks even when we don’t feel like it; following through on what needs to be completed; overcoming our own weaknesses and making steady progress towards our goals.

Managers are only human. We’re not always going to feel motivated to do our job, any more than anyone else is. The problem is that if we slack off, we will impact not just our own work, but the productivity of our entire team. Our lack of self-discipline can result in delays and oversights, and we also set a poor example for our reports. A team whose manager lacks discipline will lose respect, morale, and ultimately, their own self-discipline.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. – Tony Robbins

The true importance of effective goal-setting isn’t always appreciated. Our goals determine what is important and what isn’t. Our goals are the “why” of our work. Without a clear goal, we are traveling without purpose. There is no endpoint or destination; we’re just spinning our wheels.

Being able to set clear, achievable, motivational goals for ourselves and for our teams is one of a manager’s most important skills. Effective goals give us and our reports the ability to separate what’s important from what’s irrelevant. Make sure goals are measurable, set dates for achieving them, and make sure to write them down – studies show that recording the goal makes it over 40% more likely that we’ll attain it! Develop an action plan that includes the necessary steps along the way to achieving the goal: gathering resources, accomplishing pre-requisites, and measuring progress at intervals.

Time management is a misnomer; the challenge is to manage ourselves. – Stephen Covey

As managers, we have never-ending demands on our time – between meetings, calls, planning, coaching, performance reviews, metrics analysis, and everything else, it’s a wonder we can even catch our breath. Time management is a critical skill for anyone in a management position.

Time management really comes down to one key skill: the ability to prioritize. When we are able to separate our important, goal-focused activities from the ones that don’t really contribute to our success, we can reduce time spent on non-essential tasks. We can then determine which of the necessary activities deserve our time and attention now, what can wait till later, and what order we should address them in. Once we have a clear goal and a time management plan, all that is required is the self-control and self-discipline to get started – and follow through.


Baker Communications offers leading edge Management Training solutions that will help you address the goals and achieve the solutions addressed in this article. For more information about how your organization can achieve immediate and lasting behavior change that leads to better performance and greater productivity, click here.