Feb 072011

The Three Functions of a Management Team

The Three Functions of a Management Team

After my quarterly Return Path exec team offsite last week, my team and I were rehashing the day’s conversation over dinner.  Was it a good day or a bad day?  An upper or a downer?  We concluded that the day was as it should have been – a good mix of what I will now articulate as the three main functions of a management team.  Here they are with some color:

  1. Create an environment for success:  Do people like to come to work every day?  When they get there, do they know what they’re supposed to do, and how it connects to the company’s mission?  Are people learning and growing?  Are you building an enduring organization beyond you as a leader?
  2. Nip problems in the bud, or prevent them entirely:  Are you spending enough time thinking about your business’s vulnerabilities?  Do you go into a dark cave of paranoia once in a while and make sure you’re cognizant of all the main potential threats to your livelihood?  What can you do to spot smoke as an early warning detection of fire?
  3. Exploit big opportunities:  Do you know the top 5 things that will make your company successful?  Are you constantly on the lookout for signs that it’s time to invest more heavily in them?  Are you nimble enough to make those investments when the time is right…and have you developed the intellectual or infrastructural underpinnings to make those investments matter?

I’m not sure there’s any order or weighting to these, at least not over the long haul.

Feel free to pick up this post, discuss it, debate it.  I may be missing some huge swaths of territory as a result of where our company and our team are at this particular moment in time.  But after reading this over a few times, it feels right on a more enduring (e.g., a “hit ‘post now’”) basis.

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