Tips for company heads of department—Part IV - The Nation Online

Tips for company heads of department—Part IV


We continue with the series on tips for best practices for a head of department. We have previously looked at people, processes and delivery. Today, we will focus on how best you can manage ‘yourself.’

I remember one of my bosses during my four years at Shell Oil in UK asked me what was the biggest attribute that would take me to the top of my career. I mentioned a few things and they were all wrong in his view. He told me that the number one attribute was to fully understand and master ‘me’ – to understand who I am, what I am, what drives me, what frustrates me, my weaknesses, and so on.

It is now nine years since he told me that and with time, I see more and more sense in what he told me then. As you rise to director or head of department level, the importance of this attribute becomes even more elevated. You ned to manage your personality if you are to be a great company leader. You need to know your personality.

Study your strengths so that you can maximise their impact. Be aware of what you are good at and maximise its utility. Guard your strengths so that you do not lose them over time. If you are not aware of your strengths, you may easily lose them over time. When you are aware, then you are able to protect them.

Similarly, you need to know and manage your weaknesses. Do serious introspect and personal reflection to find out your weaknesses that you know. But you cannot know all your weaknesses. Speak to those around you, especially those that can tell you the truth and those that can tell you things that are helpful. Once you have all the feedback and you have done your introspect, you have the list of your weaknesses. You now need a plan to address all those weaknesses. You have to be bold and courageous. It is never easy to deal with weaknesses.

The first step towards dealing with weaknesses is to first accept the weaknesses. The second step is to put in place measures for resolving the weaknesses. Thirdly, you need to put in place measures for detecting when your weaknesses are to come up so that you can stop them before occurrence. You need deterrent measures also. I know a senior person in some company who knows that he struggles with temper. When he is to get very angry, he tells team that they should have tea break and he takes his coffee by the end of which time he cools down. May be not the best approach but much better than doing nothing at all. You can also find your own ways for managing each of your weaknesses.

Another key strategy for managing weaknesses is by employing people or surrounding yourself with members that compliment areas where you have gaps as a leader – especially professional gaps. For example, if as head of finance, your weakness is managing risk then you will get one manager that is good at risk management as a close ally. If you are a Marketing Director but weak on revenue planning then you will employ a sharp young man or woman that is good at revenue planning to work very closely with you. If you do not do this, you may eventually fail and even lose your job. Face and accept reality and one of the realities is that you simply can’t be good at everything.

The final important point about managing yourself is about how you project yourself. Make sure that you project yourself with the respect expected for a person of your seniority. The way you dress, walk and talk should all demonstrate the importance of your office. The way you work, the trust and dependability that you display must be exemplary of a leader that followers can comfortably respect. The things you do must be those that younger people and officers below you can admire to emulate. You need to watch everything you do and weigh it on the scale of seriousness of your office.

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