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Management Skills That You Will Never Forget

November 24, 2009

There are a few things in this world that once you learn, you never forget. Fortunately for aspiring managers, one of those things is learning how to ride a bicycle.

Making the connection between riding a bike and managing might at first seem like quite a stretch, but stop and think for a minute about the person that first taught you how to ride that bike. It just might be that you whoever taught you how to ride your bike also gave you your first and best lesson about managing and leadership.

Buy the bike.

You started those bike riding lessons with positive expectations. After all, somebody just bought you a bike and they wouldn’t have done that unless they expected that you could learn to ride it. That bike was a tangible expression of somebody’s confidence in you. It helped you realize that you were ready for a new challenge and gave you the confidence to tackle it.

There were no contingency plans in case you couldn’t ride the bike, it was just expected that you would. And you did! Good management sometimes involves “buying a bike” to establish the positive expectations that contribute to positive outcomes.

See the benefit.

If you weren’t interested in the freedom, independence, and mobility that came along with being able to ride your own two wheeler, you probably never would have tackled the job. But you knew the benefits of success, so you were willing to take the risks. Aware of the benefits, you were prepared to do the work.

Most people don’t change a whole lot. They are willing to take on new challenges when they can realize benefits from accomplishing them.

Give support.

Although you were anxious to realize the anticipated benefits from mastering your prized new possession, you still needed something more before you were ready to try riding it. You wanted to be sure that somebody was going to be there to support you.

“Give it try, I’m right here to help if you need me.” Those are the reassuring words that you needed to hear. It’s natural to be scared of failure when trying something new. Actually, the older you get, the fear of the fall is greater. To encourage people to attain new heights, a manager must be there to provide support.

Try again.

No bike riding instructor would expect perfection on the first try. It took patience to teach you how to ride a bike. Some people take longer than others to learn. But it’s worth the effort because once you learn, you never forget.

If you had a normal learning curve, it wasn’t too long before you took your first fall. What happened? I bet somebody was there to help you up, tell you it was OK, and encourage you to try again. I doubt that anybody took the bike away or put training wheels on after the first few falls. Learning how to fall is part of learning how to ride.

How would you have felt if you were all alone for that first fall? What would it have been like if somebody was there telling you all the things that you did wrong and admonished you not to let it happen again?

Give credit.

It might have taken a few more spills, but you finally made it. Do you remember how you felt? Its a great feeling to have overcome the fears of a new task and to have succeeded.

Did your teacher immediately tell what a great job of teaching they had done? Probably not. Most likely they gave you full credit and told you what a great job you did. That made you feel even better.

With the first success under your belt, what did you do next? Were you content to just ride up and down the driveway? Probably not. You most likely headed down the street and around the block. Your initial success gave you the motivation to move onto bigger challenges with a new sense of confidence.

New challenges.

If you want a company full of people with the pride and confidence to accept new challenges and responsibilities, all you have to do is to teach them how to ride a bike. It’s something they’ll never forget.

Create positive expectations by providing tangible expressions of your confidence. Provide rewards commensurate with the risks that you expect people to assume.

Provide support, but be careful not to ride somebody else’s bike. If you do, they’ll never learn to ride it themselves. If they fall, help them up and encourage them to try again.

Every now and then you might have started someone too early or bought a bike that was too big, but if the support is there, everybody makes it sooner or later.

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