What a Movie Teaches About Management Skills

By Linda Tancs

In the movie The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock’s character admonishes the coach, “You ought to get to know your players.” She was referring to the coach’s lack of recognition that one of his players tested in the 98th percentile for protective instincts, a key trait for someone acting in the role of an offensive tackle on the football field. In business, it’s equally as important to know how your team members learn so that you can lead them more effectively towards optimal performance. Individuals process information predominately in one of three ways: visually, in an auditory manner, or in a kinesthetic manner. Studies indicate that 90% of the population is oriented towards visual learning. Visual learners are aided by charts, pictures and written directions. Some research shows that those with a visual orientation tend to speak rapidly and use phrases such as “Do you see?” or “Get the picture?” when interacting with others. Those with an auditory orientation have been found to have a melodious quality to their voice and are apt to use phrases such as “Ring a bell?” or “Do you hear what I’m saying?” An auditory learner excels with verbal transmissions of information and instructions. Those with a kinesthetic orientation, on the other hand, process information more readily in a hands-on approach. Tactile learners have been found to favor phrases like “What’s your gut feeling?” or “Get a grip” and tend to speak slowly.

Knowing whether your team members function best by seeing, hearing or doing is a good first step in partnering with them to maximize their potential. Of course, it also enriches your own storehouse of wisdom and understanding, two characteristics that the Bible encourages us to cultivate. Listen and watch what others are trying to tell you. As James 1:19 (NLT) puts it, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” When you listen and pay attention to your colleagues you are blessing them and making them feel valued. That, in turn, increases your understanding of their needs and builds relationships by the way you interact. As Proverbs 16:21 (NLT) advises, “The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive.”

Do You Bite Off More Than You Can Chew?

By Linda Tancs

“A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.” Herb Caen, Pulitzer Prize-winning American columnist

Delegation bedevils a lot of people in business. We know we should do it but often we don’t or else fail to do it effectively. Do you bite off more than you can chew? If so, you’re in great company. Moses was terrible at delegation, remonstrated by his father-in-law for taking all the tasks of governance upon himself. Through his wise counsel he advised Moses on the finer points of delegation, exhorting Moses to share the smaller duties with others while retaining authority over bigger matters (Exodus 18:13-26).

So who’s who in your responsibility matrix? A responsible person is one (individually or as one designee of many) who bears responsibility for performing a task. Accountability relates to that person who ultimately bears the burden for the outcome of the task—the phrase “the buck stops here,” famously adopted by President Harry Truman, comes to mind. Accordingly, there can only be one accountable person per task. Consultants are those who have some input on the performance of the task. Therefore, they communicate with those who are responsible and accountable. On the other hand, informed folks are those kept in the loop on a project but not generally expected or required to offer an opinion (think of the “cc” and “bcc” folks on your letters and emails).

Delegation was well understood in the first century. After all, Jesus appointed 12 apostles and gave them power over evil spirits and power to heal every kind of disease and sickness (Matthew 10). Later, Paul reminded Timothy (in 2 Timothy 2:2) to entrust Paul’s instruction to faithful men who would then teach others—an ancient equivalent to our “train the trainer.”

Remember, you have employees, subcontractors, consultants or virtual assistants for a reason. As a British expression goes, don’t keep a dog and bark yourself.

Good Manners Mean Good Business

By Linda Tancs

To be well mannered is rooted in the Bible. You need look no further than the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 (NIV): “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you….” The Golden Rule encourages the development of conscience, the ridding of offense toward God and others (Acts 24:16).

So how well-mannered are you with your clients? Are you human—or humane? What would your best or worst client have to say about that? As the oft-used expression goes, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. That applies to your staff as well as your clients. How often do you acknowledge those with whom you work? For instance, do you give feedback regularly? Do you care how the message is delivered—or received? Authentic communication—that which is open, direct and honest—builds trust and understanding. What kind of foundation are you building from?

Waiting for Success

By Linda Tancs

Jonathan Winters, the comedian and author, once said: “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.”

This approach is the antidote to “paralysis by analysis.” So many times I hear people say, “Failure is not an option.” This thinking is usually what leads to paralysis by analysis: analysis of all things, great and small, that could possibly go wrong with an idea, a goal, a business venture—life. What if I don’t get any business? What if don’t get any repeat business? What if I lose the lease? What if I lose my shirt? And the list goes on and on.

Fear is the driver of this kind of analysis. Until the power of fear is broken, we remain a slave to it (Romans 8:15). Fear counteracts faith, and that is why it is such a powerful tool in the arsenal of the enemy. But 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that we have not been given a spirit of fear. What we do have is a soul (our mind, will and emotions) that hosts fear when it comes. Our best response is to deploy Psalm 118:6 (NLT): “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

Waiting for success is as futile as waiting for a rainbow after every storm. As Nike’s slogan so effectively puts it, “Just do it.” What do you want? In the business universe, four concerns are generally paramount: develop clients, build revenue, build a reputation, become a leader. Which concern, if any, resonates with you? What do you need to do to get what you want? If you’re stuck, then imagine yourself a year from now having all that it is that you want. How did you get there? Work backwards. What are the goals that you met? Who did you meet with along the way? Who played a role in your success? Write it down. Build a timeline. Construct a vision board. What else can you do? God won’t drive a parked car. With His guidance, you have all the answers. Now, get busy. You needn’t wait for success. You can go ahead without it.

The Power of Yes

By Linda Tancs

“Don’t rain on my parade.” How many times have you thought, or muttered, that phrase (or know someone who has) when confronted with a naysaying friend, colleague, family member or significant other? The effect of naysayers on the psyche is particularly acute for entrepreneurs, many of whom leave behind the relative security of a well-paying job for the chance to experience something new. Is it a smooth transition? In many cases, no. What makes it even harder, though, are those dreaded words—“You can’t do that!”—uttered from well-intentioned family or friends determined to save you from economic ruin. Have you ever wondered why the same people who tell their children that they can do or be anything when they’ve grown up throw a wrench in someone’s works when their dream changes mid-career? In circumstances like this remember that you can do all things through Christ who is your strength (Philippians 4:13).

The Bible reminds us not to be judgmental nor to put obstacles in someone’s way (Romans 14:13). So the next time a friend, family member, significant other or even stranger confides in you a dream about trading in that management job for a microphone at a comedy club, remember the power of ‘yes, you can.’

Don’t Feel Stuck

By Linda Tancs

Many folks are stuck in a job they despise for any number of reasons including economic need, fear or a perceived lack of transferable skills. If you can’t change jobs, then you must change your attitude. Colossians 3:23 (NIV) is a good place to start: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” After all, your skills and abilities are a gift from God. What you do with those assets is your gift to Him. When you perform your tasks without grumbling or arguing, you shine (Philippians 2:14-15). In other words, you demonstrate for others the value in work, and your positive attitude rewards not only yourself but those around you and gives glory to God.

So how do you put biblical injunctions like these into practice? Begin by asking yourself—what worked for me? Most people enjoy a honeymoon phase in the early stages of a job. What was it that made the job enjoyable or enticing in the first place? What has changed? Often this kind of introspection brings about a realization that it’s the de-motivating aspects of the job getting you down rather than the entire job. Try to find ways to tame the more unpleasant aspects of your employment. Understand first of all that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses; don’t resort to comparisons among people who might excel at what you detest (Galatians 6:4). If you’re able, reassign tasks, collaborate or find another position or department within the company where you can make the highest and best use of the skills you do have. After all, if you’re working at your highest level of motivation and efficiency, you’ll feel empowered rather than “stuck.”