Putting thoughts down in a journal is a useful leadership exercise. When doing so, it is important to include more than what is happening now but also what could go wrong.
This kind of journaling is revealed with the publication of “The Godfather Notebook” that director Francis Ford Coppola kept while making this iconic film. As revealed in an interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Coppola used the notebook to record his thoughts on the meaning, intention and pitfalls of every scene.
Film directors are leaders on the set. Good ones plan every scene in advance so that they can capture the spirit of the script on screen creatively as well as efficiently.
Management is something like that. Executives are bombarded with many details at any given moment. They must focus with clarity on what is important so they can keep projects on task and on budget.
Organize your thoughts in advance. It will prepare you to take action, be it talking to your team or finding additional resources.
The challenge is to make time to think and document your thoughts as words, pictures or diagrams.
Journaling will sharpen your thinking and, in turn, focus on your leadership on what’s most important.
“If you want to manage more effectively, you need to be present and accountable.”
That adage gets to the heart of a key theme of “Kitchen Confidential,” Anthony Bourdain’s memoir about learning to cook and learning to manage a kitchen, sometimes effectively and sometimes disastrously.
Here are a few lessons that translate well to management in any field — food or sport or even government.
Know your trade. A chef prepares the day in advance and stays on his feet much of the day. One mistake and you will disappoint some diner.
Know what your people expect of you. Restaurants make headlines due to the chef. They stay in business to the hard work of everyone in the operation, from the general manager to the busboy and dishwasher.
Know that your mistakes are opportunities to learn. Be humble when you screw up. Learn from the good example as well as successful operations of others. Pay attention and learn from the best people around you.
Know the risks. You must love what you do, but you must also surround yourself with people better and more capable than yourself.
Learning management from the example of others is no shortcut to the top, but when you pay attention to people who have paid their dues, you may save yourself a step or two on the ladder to your success.