Management Skills: Do You Have a ‘Hardening of the Oughteries’?

management skillsI was recently reminded of a great saying (though not in the context of management skills – but bear with me!);

he’s suffering from a hardening of the oughteries

Basically this usually relates to the tendency many of us have to live our lives driven by our ‘oughts’ e.g. I ought to lose weight, I ought to see my parents more, I ought to work less / more / more quickly and on and on

You might see that this way of living is not considered particularly healthy and it got me thinking about how a ‘hardening of our oughteries’ can undermine how we build our management skills, confidence and competence. Here are a few ideas that might help you to see if you have some hardening of your oughteries

I ought to know all the answers

The mistake I made so often as a young manager was believing I had to have all the answers. And that is a big mistake. Why?
Firstly because we simply can’t be expected to be the ‘fount of all knowledge’, to know how to best resolve the problems that arise in any team or business, to have all the best ideas for innovation and so on. Who could? When we feel the need to know all the answers we put ourselves under a level of pressure that few people can sustain healthily. It’s simply unrealistic and harmful

Secondly because when we, as managers, don’t know the answers we can then be much more open to involving our employees in coming up with those answers. And if there’s one thing we certainly do know it’s that employees are more committed to actions they have had input into and to a manager who looks for and listens to their opinions (one of the key management skills I would say)  
So, do you feel you ought to have all the answers? I’d say that’s a ‘hardening of the oughteries’ you could certainly do without (Read more on the Management Skills of Not Knowing the Answer HERE)

I ought to be enthusiastic

Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing. Who wouldn’t want to work for a manager who’s wildly enthusiastic about the business, the team and absolutely everything else? Well, me actually. Why? Because enthusiasm has a downside. It can lead to;

• Poor listening. When we are very enthusiastic we tend to talk a lot. When we are talking a lot we are, usually, not listening a lot
• A lack of constructive criticism. When we are so enthusiastic about, for example, an idea we often very persuasive. When we are very persuasive it is often very hard for people to give us some constructive criticism on that idea because they don’t want to ‘burst our bubble’.

A lack of constructive criticism is never a good thing (without constructive criticism how can we evaluate our ideas and how can we build our management skills?)

If enthusiasm is one of your ‘oughts’ you might want to think about curbing that enthusiasm – at least some of the time (Read more on ‘The Price of Too Much Enthusiasm’ HERE)

I ought to be the perfect manager

It’s very difficult be an effective manager without being a confident manager. Lots of the managers I coach and train really struggle to build their confidence because they are afraid to take action – to practice the management skills that will, ultimately, build their confidence. The reason many are afraid to take action is because they are afraid to make mistakes. In short, they want to be the ‘perfect manager’ (and, their thinking goes, you can’t be perfect if you make mistakes). The reality is people don’t actually want to be managed by the ‘perfect manager’ (who wants to work with someone who never makes a mistake, who is always right?). More pragmatically, who can learn and develop their management skills without making mistakes? Not me, nor anyone else I’ve ever met!

If your hardening of the oughteries is about being perfect, please, please think about dropping that ‘ought’ sooner rather than later (Read more on how to stop trying to be perfect HERE)

Management Skills and ‘Oughts’

Here’s a question for you;  what are the ‘oughts’ that have prevented you, or the managers you know, from developing their management skills, confidence and competence? Is it time to soften those oughteries?

I’d love to know what you think so please add a comment below and let’s share some ideas on how to put aside the ‘oughts’ that are just not useful


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