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How To Be A Good Manager: A Poem

In 2017 I was one of the lucky MVFers who took part in the Management Development Academy. As part of the MDA, we learn about the power of storytelling as a leader, with one of tasks to create an engaging story using our experience in the academy as the base.

I decided to create a poem, which I also read at our graduation ceremony, so here it is - a poem that will teach you how to be a great manager!

How to be a Good Manager

I’ve been told to craft a story that captures heart and mind
The direction? Unique, be different, one of a kind.
So naturally, a poem was top of my list
For is any medium better than this?
It needs to be simple, jargon free and compelling,
Metaphor full, it’s not telling, it’s selling.
So, bear with me now as I tell you my journey,
I’ll try keep it short, simple, not wordy.

(spoken) Sorry, it is actually quite wordy.

Chapter One: Why Should You Care?
I see you all sat there, attentive or pretending
One or two of you probably thinking ‘when is this ending?’!
But why should you care? I hear you all asking
Because this will be honest, a complete unmasking.
So, let me begin to tell out my tale
Each chapter a character I will unveil.

Chapter Two: Me The Manager – My Purpose and Vision: Gary
I’m sat in Susan’s Café, my own business I’m minding
When Gary rocks up with impeccable timing.
“Michael,” he says “You need to make your decision
What is your style? Your purpose? Your vision?”
Almost immediately I panic, for I just don’t know!
I’ve only been managing for two months or so!
If I’m without a purpose, have I let my team down?
Will everyone here see me just as class clown?
“Gary,” I ask with a lack of conviction
“Without a vision do I face dereliction?”
“Relax, and take heed to what I’m going to say
It may just save your new team one day.
A world class leader is not simply bred
But delivered through hard work and labour instead!
They know their owns strengths and their styles are unique
They capture an audience whenever they speak.
So, harness your skills, and read your strengthscope
Set out your vision and keep up your hope!”

(spoken) Turns out, my strengths are:

“I love to collaborate, and work with a team
I’m creative, persuasive, never run out of steam.
Apparently, I’m confident and like to take lead
So, I promise I’ll do the above as agreed.”

Gary stood up with a smirk on face
“My work here is done, I’ve settled my case.”
And with a turn of his heel, he left me alone
To ponder the skills I know now own.

Chapter 3: Building World Class Teams and Managing Brilliant Performance: Deidre
So, Gary’s now gone but he’s left me here thinking
Despite my own vision, the team still needs syncing!
For I’d love to say that we’re performing or storming
But really it’s stage one, we’re only just forming.
With three spots to fill and time running out
I’d better learn what interviewing’s about!

Just as panic sets in and my nerve start to jangle
In front of me sat Deidre, head tilt at an angle.
“Michael, dear boy in your thoughts you look lost
So, here’s some advice that I’ll give at no cost.
Before every interview please do your prep!
Read through their CV, it’s hardly a schlepp!
Make sure the room is fully prepared
The candidate welcomed and drinks are all shared.
Tell them the structure to put them at ease
And focus on building rapport, won’t you please?”

(spoken) And now for the questions:

“Open ended is best for they have to reply
Look out for those who use “we” and not “I”!
Evade theoretical, get no made-up response
Stay enthusiastic and avoid nonchalance.
Keep to one question and don’t make them leading
So that you’ll know what they’re really feeling.
Oh, and don’t make the question completely unrelated
That style of interviewing is totally outdated.”

“Damn it, Deidre, your advice was tremendous
It led to four hires, whom all are stupendous!
But now I’m worried that I won’t have the skill
To ensure I bring out the best of them still.”

“First thing is first, Johari’s window should open
Get to know others and remove the unspoken.
Align their objectives to give them direction
But please make them smart or face their deflation.
Direct and then guide or support if its needed
Until you can delegate, hand holding conceded
But the last piece of advice that you must keep in mind
Is that they’ll never grow if your nice and not kind.”

Deidre arose and said with eyes all a glimmer
“You’ve stars in your team, make them shine not just shimmer
Focus on what you believe they can be
And one-day they’ll be great, just wait and see.”
And I have to admit those words ignited something in me
For I now truly believe it’s my responsibility.

Chapter 4: The Legal Landscape: Jackie
Keep a paper trail.

Chapter 5: The Final Chapter
Six months has passed now and the time has just flown
But I know in myself that as a person I’ve grown.
I came to this training with not a great deal to share
But a thanks to you all, I have to declare:
Thanks for your patience, your help and your drive
For creating an atmosphere in which I could thrive
Your experiences have helped me in many a place
And I now have a team that I’m proud to showcase.

But, before I relinquish this attention that I’ve so clearly hated
There are still people in here that I have not yet celebrated.
Thank you Imogen, Carla, Catharine, Remi and Dawn.
And to all the facilitators who pushed us all on.
It would be remiss of me to not thank Fran and Jerome,
Who accredited us under the ILM dome.
And to those whose work is done behind all our backs
A massive thank you to Aggie and Logan for all of our snacks.
And I believe I speak for us all when I say this final thanks is reserved
For the incredible Ange to whom we are all undeserved.

And finally, I feel honoured to say at long last,
Congrats to all you all, we did it! We passed!

Thank you.

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