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Good Leadership and Management is Just Common Sense Isn't It?

Good leadership and management is just common sense isn't it?

Isn't good leadership and management just common sense?

At the conclusion of the two day effective leader manager course and the advanced leadership course I am often told the same thing by departing delegates.
They often say "that was a terrific course and I learned a lot. But when you think hard about these things - it is all about using your common sense, isn't it?"

I always say "yes of course. Everything is about using your common sense: but remember that common sense is not all that common!"

What is "common sense" anyway?

Common sense is the everyday word for logical thinking.
Example: If you eat too much, common sense tells you that you will get fat.
That same point stated as a logical syllogism; it sounds like this:

First premise: Over consumption of calories causes the body to store excess as fat.

Second premise: Eating too much food causes an over consumption of calories.

Logical conclusion: Therefore too much food causes the body to store excess as fat.

Everyone knows this LAW OF NATURE; yet too many people struggle to apply this so called "common sense" fact, ie common sense is not all that common.

Indeed, the non-application of "common sense" is more common!

Managing the team requires the application of common sense

What are the common sense laws of management?

Here are four to consider:

  1. The team is there to achieve a goal, so the goal must be communicated.
  2. The manager must be as good as the standard he / she expects from the others.
  3. The team must work as a team.
  4. The manager must be fair.

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1. The team is there to achieve a goal so the goal must be communicated.

The definition of a team is: "a group of two or more individuals acting harmoniously together to achieve a shared purpose"

This definition enables you to distinguish "a team" from simply "a group of random people".
It is the fact that the group are acting to achieve a shared goal that makes the group "a team".
Therefore: the goal is the all-important element that binds the team and gives it identity.

Therefore: it is imperative that every leader and manager spends as much time as is necessary communicating two things:

  1. What the goal actually IS
  2. The reasons and purpose that lay behind the goal.

It is amazing how often the goal is unclear to the people who have to implement the actions designed to achieve it.

I.e. the implementer s don't know the ultimate goal, purpose or reasons behind what they are being asked to do.

As a result

  1. Motivation is less than it could be.
  2. Efficiency is less than it could be.
  3. To the people who have to implement the tasks, the tasks seem to be mindless.

If you are the manager remember this;

Spend as much time as is necessary communicating two things:

  1. What the goal actually IS
  2. The reasons and purpose that lay behind the goal.

If you fail to do this, then your team will fragment into subsets, each trying to fulfil what it sees as its own self-interest.

Communicate the goal to the team. It's only common sense.

2. The manager must be as good as the standard he / she expects from the team

You cannot effectively criticise another person for lateness, if you, yourself are always late.
You cannot effectively criticise a colleague for poor dress, if you, yourself are scruffy.
You cannot effectively criticise a colleague for poor language, if your language too, is crap!
You must be an example of the behaviours and standards that you expect from the others.

Hold yourself to the highest standard. Then, and only then, can you legitimately manage others who are below the team standard.
It's only common sense.

3. The team must work as a team

Again, the definition of a team can be given as "a group of two or more individuals acting harmoniously together to achieve a shared purpose"

The key word here is harmoniously.

The manager should do everything possible to promote a harmonious atmosphere in the team.

And avoid doing or saying anything that is likely to create disharmony, conflict and bad feeling, in the team.

Things that are likely to create dis-harmony, conflict and bad feeling in the team:

  1. Vague and unclear instructions
  2. Unfair division of labour
  3. Negative language
  4. Poor environment

Things that will promote harmonious atmosphere in the team include:

  1. Clear instructions
  2. Proper division of labour
  3. Positive language
  4. Good work environment

It's only common sense.

4. The manager must apply the principle of fairness

The manager/leader must not be unfair.
The manager/leader must be fair.

The problem is that fairness is a complex issue. Fairness has multiple possible meanings.

For our purposes it has two meanings:

  1. The manager should hold everyone in the same class to the same professional standard:
    i.e. within the same class of team members; NO double standards. This is fairness and equality.
  2. The manager should judge each individual by their individual performance:

As opposed to judging them according to their gender, race, age, accent, economic class etc.
This is fairness and social justice.

Treat people with fairness, equality,and justice.

It's only common sense!

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About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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