I have spent many years studying successful managers, whether they were in business or in sport, trying to establish what makes the good guys so good.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that these managers and coaches know:

* how to do all the business parts of the job; and

* how to do all the human parts of the job.

A manager can have a certain level of success if he is good at the business part of the job but not so good at the human part.

Some managers can go through their whole career by being competent in all the business and technical aspects of the job.

It takes more

Does a sales manager need to know about selling? Of course he does.

Does an IT manager need to know about computer hardware and software? Of course he does.

Does a football coach need to know how to play football? Of course he does.

It’s going to be pretty difficult to manage your team if you don’t know how to do what your team members do.

However, contrary to what some people believe, the successful manager doesn’t have to be as good at the job or as knowledgeable as his team members.

If you look at the careers of some successful sports coaches, you will find that they were pretty average players.

Many of them were nowhere near as good as some of the star players they coach today. However, that has not stopped them from becoming successful as coaches and managers.

It is important to have the knowledge about the industry or business you are in and understand how your team members do their job.

But that is not what will ultimately determine your success as a manager.

Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said in his book, Leading With The Heart: “It’s important for a leader to focus on the technical details of his industry or business. But it’s vital to focus on details related specifically to people in the organisation.”

People make profits

To be a successful motivational manager, you have to know the business you are in but, more importantly, you have to know how to get the best out of your people.

In my career, I worked for seven companies, three of which I joined as an experienced manager.

Of the three I joined as a manager, one sold car maintenance products, the next one sold tools and industrial supplies, and the last one sold beer. Three totally different industries with different customers and cultures.

I can remember some of my new team members saying to me at each company I joined: “It’s different in this business, you’ll find it difficult because it’s not the same as you’re used to.” (Do you think they were pleased to see me?)

Of course it was a different industry, but managing the team members wasn’t different, and that was what I was hired to do.

At the interview stage, even senior managers had reservations about my lack of knowledge of their industry.

However, when I joined these organisations, I made it my business to find out as much as I could about the industry and the products.

I never became an expert in the products or services, but I knew how to manage the organisation’s people, communicate with them on a human level and bring in the sales.

The ironic thing is that most organisations will help managers become better at the business factors but do very little, if anything, about the human aspects.

American businessman William Hewlett, the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, said: “Managers have traditionally developed the skills in finance, planning, marketing and production techniques.

“Too often, the relationships with their people have been assigned a secondary role. This is too important a subject not to receive first-line attention.”

Make no mistake about it — if you want highly motivated employees who deliver business results, then you had better spend more time on the human and less on the business aspects. Because people make profits!