What Is The Small Business Owner’s Most Valuable Activity?

business owner activities

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Nothing. Doing nothing.

Your Business Professor was advising a CEO after a train wreck caused by his team.

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It was a case study on how to derail a project on each of the four parts of management. Usually crashing one part of management is enough. I marveled at the thoroughness of the wreckage.

“What happened?” I asked. You can count on complicated questions from consultants who have no clue.

“Time,” said the CEO, his head down. “I wish that I took 10 minutes — just 10 minutes to think about it and — if I just took some time to give the problem some real thought — then I could have provided some direction …”

The boss was taking all the blame. As he should.

It started with an incomplete arrangement (plan), using the wrong people (organize) who were distracted with other responsibilities (lead). There were no milestones, no deadlines and no managerial oversight (control).

He is not alone.

The U.S. armed services has codified this ultimate responsibility in the Army Command Policy manual. “Commanders are responsible for everything their command does or fails to do,” according to Army Regulation AR 600-20 (PDF) on page 6.

I looked around the CEO’s immense corner office. Walls of glass on two sides. “You know,” I said, “you spent a lot of money on these floor-to-ceiling windows.”

The CEO gives me a tired look. I get that a lot.

“Maybe,” I said, “You should work less and take more time looking out into infinity …”

General “Red” Newman, a hero in World War II, writes on leadership. He explains in a chapter entitled ” ‘Think Time’ is Vital in Command,” about being young and new in a position:

“Not being sure what else to do, I began reading books, manuals, files, orders and otherwise bending every effort to learn my new job.

“After about ten days, I was at my desk at five o’clock one evening when, as usual, I heard the slow measured tread of dignified footsteps in the hallway. I knew this was the fine old Chief of Staff on his daily promenade homeward.

“I looked up to see him pass my door, for I both liked and respected him, but this day the tempo of his footsteps changed and he turned toward my doorway. As I came hastily to my feet, he let his steely blue eyes rest on me a contemplative moment before he said:

“‘Newman. Every day when I pass this door I see you talking on the phone, pushing a pencil as though in a hurry, or reading with a worried frown on your face.’

“He tapped the side of his knee gently with the braided riding crop he always carried.

“‘In fact,” he said, “I’m beginning to worry about you a little—and to wonder if we have got the right man up here’.”

“The braided riding crop continued to tap.

“‘Now,’ he continued, ‘if some of the time when I come by here I find you smoking a cigarette and looking out the window, then I would be encouraged—and think maybe some general staff work was getting done’.”

The older general was advising the younger officer who would be a future general. Red Newman writes in “Follow Me III Lessons on the Art and Science of High Command,” about this learned lesson:

“Therefore, stop. Look out the window now and then, and let your mind stand away from problems to see them in perspective, to select those areas to which you will direct your efforts.

“… The most important duty of a general staff officer is not just to work skillfully, even selectively, at matters brought to him for resolution or coordination, but to reflect on matters he should be working on that nobody else has thought about yet.” (italics in original)

Instead of being hunched over his desk slaving away, perhaps my CEO would have been more effective if he had his feet on his desk staring out the window.

Train Wreck Photo via Shutterstock

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Jack Yoest John Wesley (Jack) Yoest Jr., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Management at The Catholic University of America. His expertise is in management training and development, operations, sales, and marketing. Professor Yoest is the president of Management Training of DC, LLC. A former Captain in the U.S. Army and with various stints as a corporate executive, he also served as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Resources in the Administration of Governor James Gilmore of Virginia.

81 Reactions
  1. I see this all the time with Small Business Owners. Some of the hardest workers I have ever met, can’t see that their relentless work ethic is actually what is hurting their business the most. Their “head down” mentality of getting things done at all costs is ironically blinding them from what is right in front of them. The same thing is true with companies who are dependent on their longest tenured, golden employee. The individual that they are most thankful for, is more times than not affecting their business more negatively than they realize. The day to day focus is a reality and something a CEO cannot ignore. With that being said, it is EQUALLY as important to keep an eye on the future. If you can’t pull yourself away from the day to day, even just to think, the change you want tomorrow will never come.

    • Matt, you have highlighted the biggest challenge for the small business owner. He or she must “do the work” or “manage the managers” or “develop and execute strategy” for the entire organization.

      And often, as you correctly suggest, the owner/manager must do all three at the same time.

      This requires three different skill sets. This is where the best manager’s use their advisors.

      Well Done,

    • Victoria Guerrero

      The “head-down” mentality that you mentioned is actually a form of turning in on yourself and is explained as something that hinders you from being able to give back to a company. The giving and receiving within an organization can only follow if the manager is giving the time to look up and out.

    • I think the problems that stem from being fixated on the immediate furture plagues businesses playing on the corporate level as well. Too many large companies worry about next quarter earnings and stock price rather than committing to a long term plan to build a quality product or service. I think it’s about more than just the quick buck. Focusing on the present may work as a lower level employee but anyone in a position that requires the responsibility of others includes strategic planning going forward. This especially applies to the board and executives who should have a strategic outlook that spans longer than a 1 or 2 year period.

  2. This is because of the obsession with results. As a business owner, I always take some time to step back and just do what I need to do. Or even have some free time to allow fresh ideas to spring up.

    • Aira, you are exactly right–every manager needs “Discretionary Management Time.” This is easy to advise and nearly impossible to implement.

      But the best managers figure this out. (With help from Small Business Trends…)

      Good comment,

    • Emmelyn Chapilliquen

      Your right and this concept doesn’t apply just to business owners only, I feel like it should be applied to our daily lives, sure we all have to get our heads out of the clouds but sometimes its best to step back and see the big picture a major decision (Like getting married, buying a car, even homework!) before just looking at in in small short term scale.

      • Emmelyn, you are on to something — instant actions might be necessary in an emergency — when the building is burning down. But most decisions and actions could benefit from some reflection and input from a trusted advisor.


  3. Hi Jack,

    As an SME owner it’s good to be reminded that head down is not going to get us where we need to be. Really good examples too – will share with my fellow Directors and fully expect all 4 of us to be staring out over the London skyline tomorrow!

    Thanks again,

  4. Phil, You are right: I might have left out a key component in the story line — a sky line.

    This is a most interesting insight (outsight?) you are pointing us to — in order to be more effective in “managing by looking out the window” it might be necessary to have something worth looking out to.

    And few vistas could compete with the London skyline.


  5. Victoria Guerrero

    Knowing my own mother to being a CEO of her own non-profit I’ve seen how she has great time-management skills. Due to the fact that she runs and oversees every inch of the non-profit’s programs and events, she always finds the time to rest and pray. Every morning my mother takes the time to center her day before she even begins to look at her work. The day of rest or just taking the time to mull over things and do nothing at all can sometimes be the best thing that an owner should do, to get a better perspective. I’ve seen this in daily life and I’ve seen it benefit my own life, you can’t always be busy, active thinking makes way for new ideas to seep in or anticipate something you might not have otherwise foreseen.

  6. Victoria, You have a terrific example close to home on the value of the CEO stopping and being still for a period of time.

    It is counter-intuitive, but management can get more done by doing less.

    Good Observation,

  7. About half way through this article I realized what the point was. The point was the value of strategy, planning, and thinking things through. When I reached the part about the general I remembered how business strategy and war were a like. Running the business or any of its parts are all about foresight, planning and thinking through the outcome of each scenario. I’ve read other articles on how wartime strategies from some of the greatest generals like Sun Tzu could be applied in business because like in war it’s about defeating your enemies.

  8. Emmelyn Chapilliquen

    This article does have a good point! What’s the value of having someone slave away in front of a computer and trying to find the answers but obviously not getting anywhere compared to someone who just takes a break and actually things of the problem as a whole, maybe outside the box if you will, and ultimately getting that perfect solution to the problem. I personally had those types of situations myself where maybe I have to write an essay for a class and I sit in front of my computer and type whatever comes to mind or anything instead of pausing and thinking before even turning on my computer to see what will I write and why I want it that way. ‘This article shows the plan, organize, lead and control aspect very clearly and I like how this ties into military operations.

  9. Madalaina D'Angelo

    The Small Business Owner falls into the trap of trying to play all the managerial roles, when delegating responsibilities would actually benefit the business. It’s a cycle, I feel like, of start up business owners working as their only employee, and trying to grow the business while also managing and doing the day to day activities as well. “Doing it on my own” is a favorite mentality, but a support staff allows for a different business perspective that in most cases is an asset.

  10. Catherine Warchot

    I think that it is very important for a CEO to take some time out of his/her busy schedule to just relax and clear their mind so that they can later think through their plans thoroughly without distractions or stress.

  11. Catherine, This is true — the most important commodity the manager has is discretionary management time — the time to think.

  12. This article very much hit home for me as my Dad is a small business owner. As the commander, he would say that his most valuable daily activity is keeping his presence in all aspects of the business. I do not believe Dad spends more than twenty minutes at a time in his actual office. When he is in there, it is usually to take a call from a client or supplier or to deal with an employee work issue or personal problem.
    Dad spends the majority of the day working all over his lab, alongside some key employees to keep the workflow on schedule and quality in check. He periodically walks throughout the whole plant, observing the happenings in all departments, talking to all the managers to check on everyone and everything. This walk around allows him to see the ebb and flow of all the departments, prepare for any “issues, small fires, or raging infernos.” Dad allows his managers to take the lead, but stands ready as the leader to step in from a fuller perspective to prevent a train wreck.

  13. Leanne Robinson

    Really interesting read! A manager’s job truly differs from any other. Leaders have to anticipate and guide their team/employees. Much like any leader, they have to be incredibly involved and passionate about their work, in addition to creating enthusiasm in the workplace. In our lectures, you have spoken about the extreme stress that many entrepreneurs face (as they hope to reach high reward), by putting their problems into perspective, and reflecting, a manager can truly understand his place in company matters. This is important due to illusion of control, many things we wish we can control we simply cannot. I can only assume a manager feels this emotion even more than the average person. By taking a step back to evaluate, a manager can gain perspective and show confidence in the face of adversity.

    • Leanne. yes, you are right: the manager does not do “work” as the individual contributor works.

      Remember, the manager gets paid to ‘control events.’ Now this does not mean that s/he can control every input but the manager had better control the results.

      For example, the manager cannot stop the rain, but can, as you suggest, anticipate the precipitation and carry an umbrella. The goal or ‘commander’s intent’ is not to control the weather (silly!) but to keep the rain off my Armani suit.


  14. Gerald Esparza

    This article is presenting a very valuable lesson for small business owners. The point being that there is more to managing a business than just the every day operations of the business. Reflection is a key aspect of being a successful manager for a small business owner. Small business owners often find themselves wrapped up in the day to day activities if their business and being so consumed by the business often lose focus of their vision and that is where reflection is key. Strategy and planning for a business is important because it allows the owner to step back and assess what they need and what direction they would like to move.

  15. Interesting article, something that I got out of this article is that yes, tasks are important, however it is also important for us to explore new things and open our minds. In such a technologic and competitive world we never stop to just think and open our minds. It is something that will help us to set new goals and explore areas that can interest us. Finally “reflect on matters that you should be working on that nobody else has thought about yet.”

    • Paola, good observation — we can do our best thinking alone staring out a window — but we also need some input — this is where Completed Staff Work works best: to separate Signal from Noise, that is: the relevant useable information from the non-useable distractions.


  16. Joseph Lasaracino

    One of the most important things this article teaches us, is that as a leader it is pivotal to demonstrate direction. The word direction is in this instance is regarding the forum for organization. CEO’’s are placed with the task of running a company, and the article emphasizes how a manager needs to take control of their workers and gear them in a successful position. As small business owners continue seek success their mission needs to discover practical solutions and this requires thorough thinking. Any decision takes times, but it’s crucial to for everyone to work together and find that solution including the CEO.

  17. Mary Margaret Sheridan

    “… The most important duty of a general staff officer is not just to work skillfully, even selectively, at matters brought to him for resolution or coordination, but to reflect on matters he should be working on that nobody else has thought about yet.” I think this is such an important quote from the article. As an effective manager, it is not enough to control what has already happened. You have to always be thinking about the future and what may happen. It is not enough to solve the problems that you face. You have to be able to predict and then manage anything that may come your way. Managers need to think things through before they take any action and adapt as new issues arise. It is important for a manager to be able to discern what is essential for him to be doing and what can be delegated to others. A manager needs to be able to direct his team so that he can be free to think about other important matters.

    • Mary Margaret, an outstanding observation. The boss must always be looking, be planning ahead. And competent staffers help him anticipate.

      As Peter Drucker said,”Problem solving does not produce results. It prevents damage. Exploiting opportunities produces results.”

      Well done,

  18. The most important thing I took away from this article is that you have to look forward to the future with your decisions instead of getting to caught up in the present. This head down approach only hinders businesses because they are only looking at goals that are short term. Long term goals allows for the most growth in a business and to peak you must look to the future instead of taking the head down approach.

  19. Sam, well said–there are times for the ‘heads down’ concentration needed by the manager — so that the boss can think.

    The manager needs margin in his day to think about the future and direction of his unit, as you suggest.

    Good comment,

  20. Nikolai Senchenko

    A balance definitely needs to be found in the workplace. To be an effective leader I think it is really important to work diligently and accomplishing tasks, however time needs to be allotted for reflection as well. If a leader is constantly on the phone and making important decisions, and is not making time to think about the decisions, he or she can get caught up in the minor details and make a misstep. However, I don’t think that a leader can be effective if all they do is think about their decisions without actually making them, because then a company cannot actually function. So, the most important thing is finding the balance between decision-making and reflection.

  21. As a poker player this entire article really rang true to me as poker is a very results vs. process world. An obsession over results can destroy someone if those results keep going in a negative way. If you are purely results-orientated and take no time whatsoever to reflect on the process that got you to those results, how are you bettering yourself as a business person? How can you be able to look at what went wrong and then change it for the next time if you take no time for reflection?

    Reflection on the process and then communication of that reflection are seemingly integral pieces to the big Success puzzle.

  22. Something that struck me the most in this article was when the boss was blaming himself for the “train wreck” that occurred “like he should”. I think this is very important. In a lot of instances, if something will go wrong, the boss will blame his subordinates for screwing up. If a boss wants to be a good leader as well as a good boss, it is important for him to recognize that he is just as much to blame if something goes wrong, and it is important for him to recognize where he went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again.

  23. I think the most important takeaway I had from this article was the contrast of the role of the manager versus the role of the employee. It is the employees who physically perform tasks to get the job done. Managers have a very mental job, in that they need to be able to think through what needs to get done, who can do it best, what issues may arise, and what the course of action is if they do. This is what is hard about the position of a manager – you may not have done any of the work, but because the success depends on your instruction, you are ultimately responsible for the results. In order to be an effective manager, effective thinking is crucial, but the desire to have your team succeed is the key.

    • Mary Therese, you hit the key take-away: the manager and the individual contributor have two different worlds of work but the same end-state — accomplishing organizational goals.

      Well done,

  24. Two key points struck me when I read this article. One of those being that the manager took the blame for the failure of his team’s project. His response was that he needed more time, if he just took the time to think things through there could have been a different outcome. It is important that the manager acknowledged his mistake because he is ultimately the one who implements the ‘order’. The second point I would like to address is the importance of taking a step back, thinking through all possible means to the goal, then deciding which idea is the best for a situation. I think the problem with our generation, and some before that, is that we hastily make decisions because we are in a “time crunch” while it might be important to make a quick decision in the spur of the moment, it might not be the best decision because there is not time to deliberate. The only thing the manager can do at this point is deliberate a new solution to fix the consequences of the outcome.

  25. “…Stop. Look out the window now and then, and let your mind stand away from problems to see them in perspective…” I think this is a great point that all leaders and managers need to be reminded of. So often, people get caught up in all they have to do. They are doing so much out of the goodness of their hearts because they think it is helping their organization. However, it seems that focus becomes nearsightedness and ends up hurting the company. Taking a step back from the situation allows you to distress, clear your mind, reflect, and find a new perspective. That new way of thinking could be the solution that you have been looking for. Take a lunch break, walk down the street to grab a cup of coffee, look out the window… All need to be reminded of this crucial time.

  26. The most precious thing a boss can have is time to think. Both bosses spent too much time doing work and not enough time actually thinking. A common problem managers have is being too hands on. It is the staff’s job to complete all the work, and for the boss to think and make the important decisions. If the boss focuses all their time on doing the work for the staff, then they lose valuable time to think. A manager should also have the time to take a step back and relax and take the time to reflect on a decision. It’s not a bad thing for a manager to be relaxed and not completely focused on work.

  27. “It started with an incomplete arrangement (plan), using the wrong people (organize) who were distracted with other responsibilities (lead). There were no milestones, no deadlines and no managerial oversight (control).” I find this quote to be extremely important in this article. In this one short sentence, the reader learns what the boss did wrong and what he should have done better. Plan, organize, lead, and control are the four essential functions of management. In order to lead well, one must be able to have a firm grasp of these four things at all times. If a manager or boss is able to execute having these four functions in check, they will typically be succeed in whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish. In regard to the given situation, we learn that if the boss would’ve PLANned correctly, the arrangement would’ve been complete, if the boss would have ORGANIZEd correctly, he/she would’ve used the right people/team, and if these people weren’t distracted with other responsibilities, the boss would’ve been able to LEAD them correctly. And finally, if the boss would have implemented milestones, deadlines or managerial oversight, he/she would’ve had CONTROL over the situation. Unfortunately, the boss will always be who is to blame in the case of a failure, so it is important that these management functions are observed.

  28. This is a great example of how to correctly implement the four parts of management. Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling. I never thought to implement the importance of having confidence while practicing these four parts. As a manager, confidence is so important but rarely mentioned. I believe that if an individual does not show confidence and allows their stress to overpaint their body language; then perhaps they themselves do not believe in the quality of their own work. I’ve learned from my parents that no matter where you are in the corporate ladder, you should always be yourself, be secure with yourself, trust and relay upon your own decisions, and your own beliefs because you are good enough. You would not have the position if anyone thought otherwise.

  29. There were multiple points made in this article I found to be of interest. First was the quote Isabella mentioned above “It started with an incomplete arrangement (plan), using the wrong people (organize) who were distracted with other responsibilities (lead). There were no milestones, no deadlines or managerial oversight (control).” To me no organization could possibly hope to run like this. Imagine an airline where the pilots weren’t filling out their flight plans and the air traffic controllers weren’t controlling traffic. It would end up just like the train wreck in the article. That is why good leaders are important. The second quote that struck me was the one about looking out the window now and then to get a good perspective. Leaders need to time to take a breather and look around to see what is going on.

  30. Fernanda Jocelyn-Holt

    The boss is the one who has the final say in all decisions his employees make, though this seems like an easy job, it really is not. In order to be a good leader, one must plan accordingly, be organized, know how to lead his or her fellow employees, and know how to control any given situation. In this situation, if the leader would have done all those four steps, the outcome could have been different for everyone. It is very important for everyone to be on the same page while making a big decision and it is also very important for the leader to make sure everything is going smoothly.

  31. The main concern in this article is the CEO didn’t take enough time to think about a very important decision being made within the company. The boss was probably so used to making decisions so quickly because of his “head down” habits he wasn’t thinking clearly. In theory, the the only thing the CEO should be doing IS making decisions, and not doing tedious work. The employees should be doing the work for the CEO, giving him time to think about these tough decisions.

  32. One thing I have learned, mostly because I have always had trouble with this, is the habit of impulsive decision making. It is always important to remember to step back and think. This is especially important to a manager, because his decisions have the most impact on the business. It’s also important to remember that you can’t do everything AND be a manager. It’s simply impossible.

  33. I think that the old general attempting to change the evening habits of General Newman struck on a very poignant observation that it is rather clear especially in larger organizations as the Army is, have responsibilities that far outstretch any single individual. The old general acknowledged that there is significant work required of general officers, however there is no individual that is realistically capable of maintaining direct control over every aspect of the organization and must delegate to some degree to individuals that he or she trusts. While Newman may have been surprised that the old general wished to see him relaxing or contemplating on current tasks, but this contemplation can reasonably show control over an organization through efficient delegation.

  34. One point that many people have already mentioned that I agree with is the importance of time and time management for a business owner. An owner hires workers for a reason, so they have more time to think, strategize, and manager. An owner must trust the people below him/her and not try to do every job. Being too hands on not only hurts the morale of the workers but it is less productive because owners now have to allocate more of their time to other jobs that they should just trust their workers to do.

  35. The boss wishes he could solve his problems in just 10 minutes. The most important consideration when making hard decisions is what prior knowledge the manager has about the situation and those involved. That is perception…If a manager has a solid understanding of their employees and the things he or she is responsible for it should be easy for them to make sound decisions most of the time.

  36. Taking time to NOT work is an interesting strategy. I think what the main goal of taking a break is to clear all the thoughts and clustered ideas that could lead to poor decisions. Once all the thoughts are gone, a new perspective can be taken, giving new insight into the problem at hand. As an engineering student I have had lots of practice doing this. I would spend hours and hours endlessly working on a problem with no solution that seemed acceptable. Then I would take a break for a half hour, go back to the problem and BAM the answer would just jump out at me. Its all about the new perspective. New perspectives can help in many aspects of managing and following, but its hard to truly grasp the concept until it is actually practiced and put to use.

  37. Elizabeth Gittings

    Reading this article made me think of the saying, “wake up and smell the roses”. In life many people can take a head down full steam ahead approach and they miss out on a lot of the things going on around them. If a person does this they cannot witness the good or bad that may be an outcome of their work and without this image or knowledge a person cannot 1-fully appreciate themselves and 2-possibly learn from their mistakes. Decisions are meant to be pondered and thought about and processed, not constantly worked on. A fatal flaw of not taking a second to look up and think and observe is the possibility of missing out on a critical piece of information. No person can be successful and happy without taking a second to breathe and think every once in a while to get their mind straight and back on track.

  38. CEOs possess many responsibilities; they must delegate some to the staff so that the company can be successful in accomplishing all necessary short and long-range tasks. A CEO should have a manager who can handle problems when they arise and appoint general work to the staff. This delegation allows the CEO the time to think about the company’s past, present, and future. I have listened and watched my Dad (a CEO) groom several managers into a key position to assist him, so that he can “look out the window.”. As my father’s company is small, he can keep his finger on the pulse of everything if leads should fail.

  39. Sometimes small business owners have trouble knowing what is troubling their business because they are the problem. They can try as many things as possible except changing themselves. This can hurt their business and they don’t know who to blame. They need to have a plan, organize, lead, and be in control. In a tv show, a man goes to restaurants who are close to closing their doors. This woman was the owner of a restaurant and didn’t understand why her business was failing. Throughout the show, it was shown that she was not willing to change her ways and didn’t trust her employees to do this correctly, so she did them herself. She ignored the talents of her staff, that is hurt her and her business. The man helped her and her business by pointing out what needed to change and implementing them.

  40. Amazingly, many leadership mistakes happen when the leader is actually working. Leaders get into trouble when they do the work themselves. For instance, when a leader fails to delegate he quickly finds himself overwhelmed because he can’t possibly do all the work there is to do. It is the staff’s job to do the work. This article does a fantastic job pointing out that a leader is most effective when he just sits back and lets his subordinates do their job. His job is to provide them direction, (which can be a brief and simple thing to do), and then let them do their work in the way they decide is best. Tremendously effective leaders are the ones that empower their subordinates by providing the ‘What to do’ and the ‘Why do it’ to their people, and leaving the ‘How’ up to them. A good leader tells his staff what the end state or overall objective is and the reason for it, and then he lets the subordinates determine the best means of achieving the given goals. This is the essential idea behind ‘Mission Command’ used in the Army. One of the reasons this works so well is that it makes the followers more invested in the task by making them feel it is ‘their own’.

  41. Raymond A. Watson

    Time is the most interesting factor in this reading. We all which we can go back in time and fix one or two errors, but it’s not going to happen. After realizing the CEO’s team caused the train wreck, he took responsibility since he should have monitored the team better or maybe even foresee the train wreck. Managers will always have the most difficult time because they have to be responsible for anything that happens in an office or even a small team. The CEO said, “I wish that I took 10 minutes — just 10 minutes to think about it and — if I just took some time to give the problem some real thought — then I could have provided some direction …” One must not always rush to a decision, especially when it can lead to problems. However, I also believe this is a crucial moment in the CEO’s career. As you have mentioned many times, we must always fail our way to success. I wish to believe the CEO took something positive out of the team’s failure. Maybe next time he’ll take it into consideration to always think before you act and always take time as an enormous factor in any decision making.

  42. Gabriel Daviu Molinari

    As the boss of a company, you are expected to be the one who reflects on the matters that no one else is thinking about. You are the leader of the team and as the leader, you have to be the one that is constantly thinking of what can go wrong. One of the things this article reminds me of is Murphy’s Law, which says that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. As the head of the group, you have to be the readiest for the simplest mistake. I strongly believe that an imperative requirement of being a successful leader is to be prepared for everything and have a plan A, B, and C for everything.

  43. This article explains mainly the characteristics a leader should have. A leader must be able to have a strategy in place for his team members and he must also give them deadlines and goals to achieve. A team without a goal are workers just doing a pointless job. A manager needs to be able to pressure his followers and make them want to do a good job. The best managers are the ones that make the other workers better and without any deadlines and goals the team will probably slack off. This article also mentions that a worker must be able to do his job in the best way possible but not make his job the biggest priority always. Workers need breaks away from work and that makes him more efficient. A worker that is less stressed is a better worker because he makes less mistakes.

  44. Michael Cavanaugh

    Seeing a situation in a different perspective is important. Doing this allows you to elect the areas in which you will direct your efforts. In a crunch for time every second counts this is why it is important to have a completed plan, with the right people, who can help lead a team to the goals and milestones they need accomplished. A manager has a lot of responsibility as any major problem that occurs falls on their shoulders. A team should always try to make the manager look good and help avoid any problems. This is done through completed staff work. A good manager with the guidance and recommendations of his team thru completed staff work can lead to a very successful business organization. However for this to be possible there must be a high level of trust in the team as well as good instructions from the manager to be successful.

  45. The topic of responsibility is an important one. A great leader doesn’t get things done. Rather a great leader makes sure he has the right team members and that those members have everything they need to be successful. The quote, “Commanders are responsible for everything their command does or fails to do” tells the whole story. There are ways to mess up by doing and not doing. The leaders job is to realize that both sides exist and map out a way through the job without running into such problems. The followers will get the leader to the end with their abilities and knowledge, the leader just has to show the way.

  46. Bernardo Guillamon

    A manager must not be swamped with work. The manager should be making the difficult decisions. If the boss is making every decision for the company, he is working may too hard and may not make him as able to have the correct judgment for those decisions. This is the subordinate’s responsibility, because it is their job to make sure that the boss makes only the most difficult decisions. He is trained to make difficult decisions like that and his ind may not be right if he is too busy making decisions like having to go buy more paper for the copier. IT may also be that the boss may not know how to delegate and he may want to take on every problem himself. This may stem from a lack of trust in his subordinates and it is his responsibility to either begin to trust them or replace them.

  47. Katarina Percopo

    When running a business, it is important to be organized, have a competent staff, have clear goals in mind and set deadlines. If the business is not organized, it will not run effectively nor will it be successful. Having a staff that understands their tasks and will be able to perform them to the best of their abilities is absolutely key when running day to day operations. Having deadlines will help the employees be more time efficient and keep up with their work. If you do not have deadlines employees are going to be confused when tasks are due and may get distracted and be behind because they are not organized. All of these things are just as important as the other, without these things a business will not be able to be successful.

  48. The whole premise of this article is something that is often underappreciated and thereby, undervalued when it comes to problem solving. Too frequently crunch time pushes team members and the managers that lead them into acting too hastily. It is acting too quickly under pressure that causes big mistakes that would otherwise be avoided by just taking a moment to think through the nature of the situation at hand. Those who take the 10 minutes, like the CEO in the article wishes he did, disaster can be avoided and risk to the success of the project can be minimized. The lesson of this article is an important one and something every graduating student should take with them to the work place. The CEO in the story learned the lesson so we do not have to.

  49. Adrienne Thompson

    Sometimes people get so caught up on finishing work that they lose the reason or purpose for their work. I agree with the General Newman’s Chief of Staff that sometimes people need to take a break and reflect on what they are actually doing. I think that when people lose the motivation or their passion for their work, that is when completed staff work tends to be incomplete. Reflecting on what you do no only helps you, but also improves the quality of your work. Yourself and your boss will thank you in the future. There should be deadlines and followers should plan according to them, however it is also the job of the leader to continue to inspire followers to not just complete work, but complete it right.

  50. The head down mentality can turn out to hurt managers rather than benefit them. When a manager becomes engulfed in each and every little matter, they often struggle to pick their head up and look at the big picture. If this were to happen, it is up to the manager’s staff to realize the issue at hand, and take care of it before it the manager becomes too consumed in their work. The manager must trust in their staff, and sometimes the staff may have to help the manager look at the grand picture of it all. The best managers don’t seek day to day achievements, but long term success.

  51. A business can only count on one thing when trying to be a successful business: organization. A company if organized might not back the most money, or yield the biggest return, but it will, however, be the most efficient. Companies that have an understanding staff, a hard working infrastructure and an organized plan will always come out on top! If the company is organized then the work will get done on time and on budget, which is the primary goal when running a business. I also believe that if a company is getting their tasks done on time and on budget then the competition will always be struggling to stay on the same level and most of that is due to the organization of the business.

  52. As a manager, it is important to keep on top of your own workload and the workload of your staff; however, it is equally as important to take a step back and reflect upon where your work is going. If you do not reflect and take the time to understand for yourself the goals and objectives of a project, or your company in general, work will not be efficient. Without proper direction, the efforts of a small business staff will not reach their true potential or actually/completely accomplish what is needed to be finished. As the manager or potentially owner of a small business, your perception and decision making is the sole guidance of an organization.

  53. The ten minutes, which the CEO mentioned in the beginning of the article is crucial when executing a plan. Time is something everyone today says they never have enough of. And while it seems like people are just getting more and more busy, there are definitely moments where time should be taken for thought and consideration. Although during this time it might not seem like much is getting done, it will save the boss and the team in so many ways in the end. Whether it is a small project or large or solving a sudden problem, though must be put in, in order to avoid the losses.

  54. I found this article to be very interesting in explaining what a leader really is. I liked how the article made some interesting connections between the military. The quote, “Commanders are responsible for everything their command does or fails to do” is very significant. This quote is important because it explains how difficult it is being a manager or leader. When put in that position, managers are often hit with some hard decisions that can either be good or bad for them and their workers. The weight is on the manager’s shoulders and that is what this quote describes. On the other hand, I liked the short paragraph’s from General Newman’s book. In the first paragraph, he describes his first time being in a new leadership position and how he spent countless hours reading about his job. I believe this is relatable to anyone who will be starting jobs soon. The more you know about your job the better off you will be.

  55. A lot of people get caught up in their work and can easily lose focus of not only what is going on around but they can lose focus on the task at hand. This article reminds me of another article in which Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, two of the wealthiest men in the world, were discussing their daily schedules and they were saying that in Warren Buffets calendar there were days where there was nothing planned. Warren pointed out that this time is important to him because it allows him to think.

  56. Aws Alkhashrami

    This article emphasizes an important point about how crucial managers are for their companies. Managers are the ones who announce the final decision and that decision should be, with no doubt, so thoughtful since it could lead to success or failure. A manager’s decision is an important aspect of leading and it requires contemplation because that what would lead the business to prosper. When employees make sure that their work is efficient enough, the manager would be able to make faster and better final decisions. Managers are the ones who are responsible in case of big failure; therefore, employees must be very careful when they accomplish tasks so that managers would not face the consequences.

  57. This article brings up the very interesting concept that it is often times better for managers or leaders in an organization to take time to not do work and instead focus on the future and the direction of the organization. Often times managers and small business owners are very results driven and that is how they got into their current position. The issue is that managers cannot only focus on immediate results of the company, but they must also be able to focus on the long term direction of the company, and prepare for threats to the company such as aging out machinery or new advancements in technology that will change their market place. Thus, managers must put their feet up and look at the company from a different view point then staffers whose job is to complete the work at hand.

  58. For a company it is important to always important to be in an organized mindset. This means you should always have a clear view and goals of where your company is heading and where you want it to go. This serves to the bosses visions as well as the employees focus. This can be tough because everything is in front of you and seems like the top priority. It is important to focus on task at hand but you must always keep the bigger picture in mind in order to achieve growth and continued success besides staying put.

  59. The article is sharing vital information about allocating enough time when making decisions about your organizations. It is very important to put more efforts during planning stage for the organization. Furthermore, it is important to use right people when making decisions related to the firm. Lastly, organizations should come up with managerial oversight team to monitor various activities within the firm. In addition, organization general officer should spend much of their time reflecting on matters which nobody else has thought about yet. In this manner, firms will easily meet their targets. In conclusion, the article illustrates on importance being focused among employees.

  60. Abayomi Adebayo

    It is important for a company to be in sync. When making a decision, the manager should be well informed. This is in large part the role of the follower or worker. It is the bosses’ job to set a clear and concise goal. A good leader will give his or her employees the right tools needed to perform the specific job. This explains how everyone in an organization has a responsibility. Everyone must do his or her job to be successful. This is similar to a football team. No matter how good the quarterback is, if the offensive live doesn’t give him time to throw, he can never truly succeed.

  61. Abdulmajeed Anwar

    In this article, there are lessons to learn on being an effective manager. It also encourages managers to learn to take blame on failures: a way of being responsible. In many occasions, manager put the blame on the staff under them. This article enlightens on the core functions that a manager should apply an immense focus on: planning, organizing, leading and controlling. It gives advice to managers on the importance of having time to think and sort out issues: a vital factor in leadership, managers should learn to view problems in a perspective. This helps to know where to focus more energy.

  62. The most interesting point that I seen in the article was the point behind taking breaks from your work. I think in business and in life in general, it is good to sit back and think about your work rather than just trying to cram it all in to get it done. By doing this I believe work becomes more interesting and it would be done more efficiently. Also, I liked how the article touched on being very organized with your work leads to more success. If your managers are organized, it will have an effect on the subordinates and everything will run much more smoothly. Managers are very important to any organization and they will be one of the reasons why the company will be successful by their decisions and actions.

  63. The most valuable thing a manager can have is an ideal opportunity to think. Both supervisors invested excessively energy doing work and insufficient time really considering. A typical issue directors have is as a rule too hands on. It is the staff’s business to finish all the work, and for the manager to think and settle on the essential choices. In the event that the manager concentrates all their time on taking the necessary steps for the staff, then they lose significant time to think. A supervisor ought to likewise have sufficient energy to make a stride back and unwind and set aside the opportunity to think about a choice. It’s not an awful thing for a director to be casual and not totally centered around work.

  64. Reflection is a pivotal part of a decision makers day. Leaders and managers are constantly put in a position where they have to make decisions that set the direction of the team. Over the course of the day, leaders could get bogged down by the constant influx of team members presenting them with decisions and proposals. It is very important for these decision makers to slow down and reflect. This time of reflection allows decision makers to assess what they’ve done and what needs to be done to be successful in the future.

  65. This article really emphasizes and exemplifies the importance of strategic planning, and truly taking time to think things through before acting. It is a positive and effective step for managers to have time and opportunities to think and reflect on potential decisions to be made. The goals should be clear, and oftentimes managers lose focus on the big picture and what is actually important, resulting in some kind of fallback. In order for a small business to reach its potential and grow in business, the managers must organize, plan, control, and lead. This is necessary for any business or organization, but even harder for small business owners. In the article, I admired that the CEO took full responsibility for the failure, and reflected on his poor decision making. Though I do believe that not absolutely everything is all of his fault, however, he is still the leader, and acted like one even in the midst of a crash. Many managers only want to take credit for the successes in their companies. I’m sure that next time, hopefully, he will take more time to reflect on his future plans and strategies, be more organized, use the “right” people who are committed and focused on the project at hand, and implement the right strategy.

  66. I found this article interesting in the sense that it highlights a unique ability for a company to look and plan into the future for the benefit of their employees and customers. I agree that there are some issues with a company being fixated on the immediate future, specifically within the corporate levels. It happens repeatedly, when a company is pressed to meet a quarter deadline or trying to increase stocks, there is a constant struggle and lack of future vision. Personally, I feel that executives of a company have the responsibility to instill a unique vision upon their lower employees and customers. This means, they need to think into the future, the long term, years down the road. For example, I work for a family owned and operated company and every six months, all employees (including upper management) must attend a meeting where the company executives (the Family) speaks about long term goals and objectives for the company. These goals and objectives always keep their morals aligned with the company vision. This call to act is something that empowers all members of the company and the people we serve. For me, I feel this is the only way people should do business. By having these meetings, we (as employees) not only engage our customers more effectively, but grow, including profit and sales. We effectively sell products, because we capture a unique essence with our customers, an essence which the executives have instilled in each of us.

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