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New Manager? Be an Archimedes, Not a Sisyphus!

March 20, 2015

new manager? be like archimedes

So you are a new manager trying to figure out what to do first. Here are some tips on how to be more like Archimedes and less like Sisyphus. But first, a little intro on these two gentlemen:

Archimedes was a mathematician, physicist, engineer, astronomer, inventor, and innovator of Greek descent who lived in Syracuse, Sicily, about 2200 years ago. He is best known for his “Eureka” moment in the bathtub which helped him explain buoyancy. He is also well-known for the lever. You surely have seen his famous quote:

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world.”

On the other hand, Sisyphus is a mythical figure. He is well-known for his groundhog-day existence of moving a rock up the mountain, only to see it roll down again, resulting in a never-ending rock-rolling exercise with no end nor results in sight. This was punishment for his deceitfulness.

So if you are a new manager, you want to focus on sharpening your inner Archimedes and curtailing your Sisyphus. How? Here are 3 tips:

  1. Find the levers: Just like Archimedes, you need to look at the work your team does and break down the processes. Plot out how the process pieces connect and cascade up to the organizational goals. Are you managing a profit center? Then your levers influence revenue. Are you managing a cost-center? Then your levers must deliver the product or service while decreasing costs or keeping them at bay. To start with this exercise, you can take a basic process mapping class or find other resources that are readily available to help you.
  1. Be transparent: Unlike Sisyphus, you need to be open and transparent in your business dealings. Deceit may give you instant gratification and a power trip, but it is not a viable long term solution that delivers results. Strengthening your communication skills can help you articulate your vision to your team, address challenges, and celebrate successes. The better you communicate and the more transparent you are, the more you will expand your influence. Being transparent doesn’t mean to wear your heart on your sleeve. Rather, it means having and communicating with clarity on both the good and the bad in your day to day operations and the long term goals.
  1. Think out-of-the-box: Apparently, Archimedes thought everywhere, including inside the bathtub. The key here is not to become an automaton whose mind never stops, but a manager who encourages and fosters new idea generation in the team. Creativity is everywhere, and if you nurture it, it will flourish. From creativity great ideas may evolve, and if you are transparent and connect them to the right levers, you may lead your team to higher ground. It may seem counterintuitive to take a course on creativity and innovation, but for those who find spherical thinking completely foreign or need to re-start their creative engines, you should be open to all options, much like you would in your managerial role.

So find the levers, be transparent, and think out-of-the-box (and perhaps in the bathtub!). And, before you know it, the next best product, service, or app solution may be just around the corner of your mind, along with your very own Eureka moment ready to move the world!

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American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.

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