Business manager

A good business leader puts others in positions for success

By J. Robert Parksinson

Last week, as I was flipping through a book I had written some time ago, I

I came across a few essays that I think might be appropriate for this column. “Currencies

to manage” is a collection of sayings and comments accompanied by

essays developing the ideas or concepts of the sayings. All the trials have to do with

certain aspects of business or management.

One of the essays dealt with an old Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish, and

he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Obviously, this

The saying relates to short-term activities versus long-term activities. Certainly there is good

reason to give an object to someone. It may be even more useful to give a

competence, however. Both item and skill are beneficial. Each must be selected


Here is an example. Many managers are promoted to their positions because

they are good “doers”. They might do something. They got so good at “doing”

they were rewarded with promotion to a leadership position.

Without further support and instruction, it can be the same as giving a

man, or a woman, a fish. This new manager will use it, but over time it will be gone. A

manager who does not grow does not succeed, and his lack of success does not help a

company or department.

Perhaps you have observed or experienced a “doer” manager in action. As

as soon as something is wrong or needs to be fixed, this type of manager steps in

and correct it. Subordinates and staff members are not involved in the solution while

the “doer” approaches the situation. Many managers forget that their job is not just to manage situations, but also to manage people who can contribute to

successful results.

Real managers learn to fish. In other words, once assumed the role of

manager, they learn a whole new set of skills. They acquire, practice and perfect

new behaviors that were not required in their previous position.

The lesson here is that when we promote someone to a leadership position, we

must be sure to provide both the skills and the knowledge that will be needed for this

the success of the person. And that ultimately contributes to our success and the success of

our business.

And when we’re the person who gets promoted, but we haven’t learned or

given what we need to know to be successful in our new position, now is the time to

take some fishing lessons!

One of these lessons is linked to another motto: it is better to give than to give.

to receive. As a manager, we are now able to help others succeed. We have

worked hard to achieve our success. We learned and trained to use the gifts

we were given the best of our abilities to succeed in our profession.

By sharing your gifts with those around you, you demonstrate the traits

of a successful manager. “Gifts” are not necessarily things. It would not be

appropriate in many business contexts.

In the business world, gifts are honesty, support, encouragement, assistance, advice, and other intangibles that serve to help others maximize their potential. A kind word or taking the time to listen to someone with a problem can go a long way to ensuring a productive environment.

As business leaders, we have many gifts to share. When we give to the people

around us, they might just pass them on to others. It’s a heady thought.

And that brings us to another saying created many years ago by a

American company: “When you care enough to give your best.” This motto creates a

image of quality and social grace. It reflects something that is important.

As business people, we can learn to demonstrate and

recognize the importance. When you are able to offer someone a promotion,

recognize it as a special event. After all, it is important for the person to be

promoted. Make it an observable celebration. It doesn’t have to be expensive or

to elaborate. The long term results are well worth the investment.

A final note: Writing this weekly column has been one of the great joys of my life. It gave me the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful people in our community. And I’ve always appreciated readers’ responses to ideas and stories I’ve shared with you since 2009, when I started writing “Show and Tell.”

But now it’s time for me to retire. This is my last column. Thank you for your loyal readership. Your kind words over these many years are the “gifts” I carry with me.

J. Robert Parkinson, Siesta Key resident, Ph.D. in communications from Syracuse University, is an author, speaker, executive communications coach, and business consultant in the United States and abroad. He has written many books, including “Becoming a Successful Manager” (McGraw-Hill). “Be as Good as You Think You Are” (Motivational Press) and “Never Kick a Kangaroo” (Authors Place Press) were written with his wife, Eileen. Contact him at [email protected]