Mel Savage Executive Coaching

The Importance of Managing the Organization

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The Importance of Managing the Organization
Managing the organization is not a step by step process, but today I want to offer you 4 strategic pillars you can use to up-level your EQ and your approach to managing the organization.

I used to have this saying that ‘The job is only 50% of the job.’

I was the Sr. Director of Marketing for McDonald’s Canada. I was responsible for the strategic development and execution of the marketing calendar. Everything from new product launches to Monopoly to Happy Meals to the Ronald McDonald program… my team and I would recommend strategies to prioritize, position, fund and nurture each brand to hit our sales targets, and then execute against it.

But that was only half my job (maybe less if I’m honest).

The other half was what I called managing the organization. And that’s the part of the job that determines your future growth and success.

Don’t get me wrong. I had to do my ‘marketing calendar’ job well. But that’s table stakes. My team and I could create a brilliant marketing calendar every year and hit our sales target, but that’s not what would get me promoted. That just means I get to keep my job.

What differentiates you at that level, and what keeps you moving up the corporate ladder is how you manage the organization.

Managing the organization is your ability to smooth the path to results.

It’s your ability to influence stakeholders, build relationships, anticipate hurdles and address them, grow your people, pick your moments, read your audience… and so on.

It’s the subtleties of success.

And while the first part of my job leaned heavily on IQ. Managing the organization is all about EQ.

I think it’s useful to remind yourself that your ‘job is only 50% of the job’ because so often, you let yourself get sucked into spending 90% of your time on the first 50%.

And that’s not a problem if your current focus is simply to get good at the core of your job. But if you stay there, you risk not only your growth, but your long-term effectiveness in the role.

Improving your ability to manage the organization is not a step by step process, but today I want to offer you 4 strategic pillars you can use to up-level your EQ and assess your approach to managing the organization.

1: Choose to make it a priority.

The first question to ask yourself is how much time are you investing in managing the organization? If you’re spending less than 50%, it’s probably because you don’t want to do it. You may argue with me on that. You might say it’s because you have so much work that you don’t have time to do it.

And I’m not arguing with you on that. All I’m saying is you know how to make time for the things you want to do.

So be honest with yourself and get some self-awareness around the real reasons you don’t make space for managing the organization.

Is it a have-to for you vs. a want-to? Do you resent doing it? Are you intimidated by it? Does it sound like politics and you hate politics? Do you think it’s not your strong suit? These are the stories that might be getting in your way. Find your story and decide if it’s true, or if it’s just the story you’re using to avoid the work.

Just remember. You control your time and you make time for things you want to do. Once you decide it’s a priority, then it’s easy to get rid of non-priority tasks on your plate.

2: Intentionally nurture priority relationships.

There are stakeholders you need to get the job done. Who are they?

In my role, my most important stakeholders were the Heads of Operations, Menu Development, Business & Consumer Insights, and Supply Chain, as well as influential Franchisees and the account leads at our Agencies. Not to mention my CMO boss and the President. And those were just the MOST important ones… there were many more.

A big part of my job was working collaboratively with those people to get the work done. But a bigger part of my job was intentionally building a relationship where each of those people trusted I understood their needs and had their back… and I’m not saying I was perfect at it… but that was the job.

Many of my clients have situations where there’s an adversarial relationship between them and one of their priority stakeholders. And what that tells me is my client has an opportunity to better nurture that relationship.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had plenty of stakeholders who were defensive and difficult even when I showed up open and collaborative. I’m not saying it’s easy. But it’s my job as a leader to figure out how to intentionally and authentically nurture the situation until they trust me.

Looking for help with this? Book a free consultation.

3: Anticipate your audience.

Your job is to deal with roadblocks ahead of time. The last thing you want is to go into a big room with a bunch of decision-makers and be surprised.

Your job is not to be surprised. 


And that means leveraging your ability to listen, understand, and openly collaborate.

When you know your stakeholders, you know who’s going to have a problem with what. And if you’re not sure, then it’s your job to find out. And all the conversations need to happen before you get into the big room.

We used to joke that we needed to have meetings about meetings. But that’s the job. You must anticipate who in your stakeholder audience will be onside with the idea and who won’t, and then solve the roadblocks ahead of time.

4: Confidently clean up after yourself.

There is no perfect way to do this work. Well, let me take that back. The perfect way to do this work is to accept that you won’t do it perfectly.

So for you leaders out there who are afraid to make a mistake, this will be a good growth opportunity for you.

Now WHEN things go sideways (and they always do), I have a few rules I like to follow;

  1. No blaming anyone else. Don’t spend time scapegoating. It’s a defensive play that leaders don’t need.
  2. No beating myself up. Even if you blew it, how does beating yourself up help? Some people think it’ll make them more rigorous next time, but in actuality, it makes you more hesitant and risk-averse.
  3. Pragmatically solve the problem. When you don’t spend time scapegoating, you have more time to lead the solutions and move forward.
  4. Manage noise and expectations with stakeholders. You don’t have to freak out and get small. You simply acknowledge either the potential or existing issue, recommend the solution, listen keep moving forward.
  5. Figure out what I’ll do differently next time – just me. I always assume that I always have something to learn when things go sideways.

Need help with your strategy for managing the organization? Book a free consultation with me.

Bottom line: If you’re not spending half your time managing the organization, then you may only be doing half you job.

I have 20+ years working as a leader in the corporate world. I know what you need to do. And I combine that with four years of training as a cognitive behavioral coach. I know how to help you naturally think like the leader you want to be.

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The job of a leader is completely different than the job you were doing before you became a leader. I figured it out the hard way. You don’t have to.
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