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Chapter 6. From Business Manager to Grou... > Managing and Developing Business Man...

6.2. Managing and Developing Business Managers

Group executives run their business managers and approve their strategies, but they do not run their businesses. This isn't just semantics. Group executives are strongly tempted to change a business strategy, challenge pricing, consolidate factories, and do all the "fun" things they used to do as business managers. Although it's critical for them to ask questions and evaluate whether business managers are carrying out these tasks effectively, they do tremendous damage to the leadership pipeline if they do these things themselves. Similar to the transition that a manager of managers goes through, group executives must exhibit restraint. In even the largest, most complex organizations, there are usually no more than two hundred or three hundred business managers. These are the best and the brightest, the talent pool from which an organization's top leadership positions will be drawn. Not developing them effectively virtually ensures that a company will have to look outside to fill its top positions. As crucial as it is to develop direct reports at all levels, it's of paramount importance here to the future of the enterprise.

To help develop business managers properly, therefore, group executives need to stop creating individual business strategy themselves and learn how to critique the business managers' strategies. They must resist the impulse to impose an effective strategy on a direct report's business and instead ask the questions and provide coaching that allows that direct report to forge his own strategy. The best group executives are astute about their business managers' strategic planning ability. Through their questions and observations, they can determine whether their direct reports have made their own leadership passage successfully or whether their thinking is stuck at the functional manager level. Strategy review skills are honed here and are crucial to success.


  

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