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5 Management Takeaways From 200 Episodes

This article was based on episode 200 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Get the full episode guide when you become a member at themodernmanager.com/join. Purchase any full episode guide at themodernmanager.com/shop.

200 episodes! When I first conceived of The Modern Manager podcast, just releasing ten episodes seemed like an achievement. And yet here we are, four years later, celebrating 200.

In this episode, I share five of my favorite takeaways from all 200 podcasts. I include a “next step” with each takeaway to help you put these fantastic ideas into action. I’m right there with you. I’m taking on these calls of action myself and trying to be the best manager I can be. Good management is a continual journey we’re all working on together!

1. WE NEED MORE INTROSPECTION (NOT REFLECTION)

Episode 167: Cultivate A Culture Of Love With Mohammad Anwar and Frank Danna

Many individuals and teams have a regular practice of reflection. Pausing to assess what happened and how you could do better is an important contributor to future success. Yet, Mohammad encourages us to do more than reflect. He explains that reflection is thinking about what you could have done differently to achieve better outcomes whereas introspection is asking yourself why you behaved or thought the way you did. Why were you nervous for the presentation? Why did you get so upset with your colleague? These questions are an opportunity to look deeper inside ourselves. When we take a moment to understand ourselves, we can get to the root cause and begin to make real changes. Instead of allowing unhelpful patterns to repeat or berating ourselves for not being able to show up how we intend, through introspection, we can uncover our true selves and facilitate transformation.

Your Next Step: Take 5 minutes for introspection time this week. Pick a recent situation that was hard for you. Explore why you might have shown up the way you did.

2. IS YOUR TEAM AN INTERSECTION OR A ROUNDABOUT?

Episode 53: Moving Beyond Modern Management with Aaron Dignan

Aaron likens team management to driving a car and arriving at an intersection. If there is a stoplight, the driver just sits and responds to orders from the light control. If it’s a roundabout, the driver must pay attention to the flow of traffic and respond accordingly. While it may seem that an orderly, hyper-controlled system like a stoplight would be much safer, the numbers tell a different story. Not only are roundabouts safer, they are also cheaper and more efficient. But in the US, we have 1113 times more lighted intersections than we do roundabouts.

Roundabouts require trust. The driver has full responsibility and autonomy to act within the rules, using her best judgement. This same concept applies to teams. Do you employ a command-and-control management style where your team is waiting to act until you give a green light? Or do you empower them to make decisions, think critically and take actions they deem appropriate?

Your Next Step: Take 30 minutes with your team to explore if there is something that is currently functioning like a stoplight that could be replaced with a roundabout. What would it take to do that? What is stopping you?

3. IT’S EITHER HELL YEAH OR NO

Episode 179: Free Your Time For What Matters Most with Dorie Clark

We only have so much time in the day, making it our most precious resource. According to Dorie, we’re smart enough to say yes to a great offer and no to a bad offer. It’s the ones we are lukewarm about that are problematic. We want to be a good friend, spouse, community member, entrepreneur, or colleague, so we justify agreeing to a mediocre opportunity for its potential benefits and end up overloaded. Dorie quotes Derek Sever's approach to remedy this confusion: It’s either a Hell Yeah or No. Unless something really excites you, say no. On a ten point scale, if it’s less than an eight, don’t do it.

Your Next Step: Next time you get asked to help or offered an opportunity, do a gut check. Is it a 9 or 10 on the Hell Yeah scale? If it’s not, be honest with yourself about why you’re inclined to say yes, and whether the tradeoff would really be worth it.

4. GET COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE

Episode 89: Growing into an Inclusive Leader with Jennifer Brown

Becoming an ally for others means exercising a new muscle. It requires us to learn about people, use new or unfamiliar language, and examine our behaviors and thought patterns. Putting all of this into action can feel intimidating. We’re afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. Yet stumbling and apologizing is part of the process. As you practice, you build your DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) muscles. It’s okay if it feels awkward. You’re modeling for others how to be an ally in relationship with others. You’re doing your best to create a welcoming space. When you receive feedback, take it graciously. As you learn more, do better.

Your Next Step: First, learn something about DEIB. Find a podcast, book, or article to better understand racism, misogyny, or the immigrant experience. Then get a “board of advisors” who can give you honest feedback about how you are showing up. This can be a trusted colleague or friend who will let you know if you misstep.

5. WE DON’T NEED WORK/LIFE BALANCE.

Episode 106: Living Your Most Productive Life with Tonya Dalton

Balance is essential when riding a bike. But what it takes to balance changes depending on whether you want to go straight or make a turn. Being perfectly balanced keeps you going in the same direction. To try a new direction, you need to lean to one side, tilting you off-balance momentarily. You then counterbalance to recenter the bike.

According to Tonya, this is how we should approach work and life. We don’t need to do it all at the same time. We don’t need to make sure every single part of our life is running at optimal levels and focus. Instead, we need to find the right rhythm of leaning and counterbalancing for our days, weeks, months, and even years. Some days we might want to lean more into a certain project and concentrate on that. We might then shift later that week to building work relationships and taking care of our home needs. Still we may devote a few months to caring for an aging parent and then turn to work with a renewed intensity. We can lean and counterbalance in all the areas of our life in a way that feels helpful according to our energy levels and needs.

Your next step: Take five minutes to reflect on your life. Identify the various domains (family, parenting, volunteering, work, self-care, spiritual practice, etc). At this moment, where is your focus? Where do you want it to be? How might you apply this idea of lean and counterbalance, essentially having domains taking turns rather than trying to keep them all running at full speed?

All it takes is a few minutes a week to start developing a new management habit. Practice introspecting to understand the root of who you are so that you can create real transformation. Consider how you can give your team more trust, autonomy and decision-making authority. Reflect on whether you should say “Hell Yeah” or an outright “No” to the next offer that comes your way. Practice applying your DEIB knowledge, accepting learning moments with grace. And take some time to lean and counterbalance rather than trying to do everything all at once. These gems of sustainable management practices are going to be my guiding light throughout 2022.

Thank you to everyone who has been on this leadership journey with me throughout these last 200 episodes. I’m especially grateful to my guests who have shared their invaluable insights into leadership, team effectiveness, productivity, and healthy work environments. I know I’ve learned a ton and I hope you have as well. I look forward to what we can learn together in the next 200!


Get the full episode guide when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join. Or, purchase an individual episode guide at themodernmanager.com/shop to help you implement the learnings and continue to enhance your rockstar manager skills.

This article was based on episode 200 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.


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