Looking back on my early career, I was an excellent salesman but a lousy manager. I didn’t understand the power of intention.
My aim in those days was to fix whatever problem arose, with little concern about the people involved. When I began to focus on the people—rather than the problem—my management skills improved. When I saw the employee at his or her best, rather than at his worst, I earned the employee’s respect, loyalty, and dedication. I focused equally on the employee’s growth and well-being and the agency’s goals.
Great managers are “care-fronters.” Coined some three decades ago by pastoral theologian David Augsburger in his popular book Caring Enough to Confront, care-fronting combines “genuine caring that bids another to grow” with “real confrontation that calls out new insight and understanding.”
“Care-fronting unifies concern for relationship with concern for goals. So one can have something to stand for (goals), as well as someone to stand with (relationship) without sacrificing one for the other, or collapsing one into another.”
I still carry shame about the way I used to manage. Perhaps I would have changed sooner had I discovered Augsburger’s words.