Politicians and managers

Douglas Adams in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy had this to say about politicians:

“…anyone capable of getting themselves elected to public office should on no account be allowed to do the job…”

Admittedly he was talking about a man with three arms and two heads from a planet close to Betelgeuse!

As a description, that’s not too far from our current batch of politicians: many of them have two faces, too!

Okay, a cheap shot, but one I hope you enjoyed as much as I did.

I was re-reading the book last week and his comment got me thinking about the differences between managers in EB and politicians and their attitudes to getting better at what they do – i.e. their attitudes to getting some training.

If you think about it, what politicians and managers have to achieve is fairly similar. Both have targets to meet, make decisions about what to do with scarce resources and manage teams of people to achieve these things.

But the way they go about these jobs seems to me to be fundamentally different. A politician, I think, could learn an awful lot by managing a business in EB. In essence in EB we need to understand the three moving parts in any business:

• Customers and their needs
• The team and their needs
• The numbers and processes that make the business work

In larger businesses there may well be a person for each of these jobs and another, at the helm, making sure they are all pulling in the right direction. But in EB, the chances are that all three roles are enshrined in you.

I’m lucky… in our business there’s me – good at the customer bit – and there’s another director who can make a column of figures add up the same twice. So she’s got the finances to look after. But if you’re on your own you need to either develop the skills to deal with all three moving parts or get someone on board to help you.

The starting point, of course, is to look in the mirror and really decide what your strengths are and then decide how to close the gaps you have identified. Sometimes a conversation with someone else can help with this – we call them Coaches – other times it’s painfully obvious what’s missing.

Once you know where your gaps are, get some training. You may find you have a flair for something that makes a real difference to your business.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if politicians did the same thing..? But that might expose a weakness that they needed to do something about.

Heaven forbid!

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