In response to a recent blog re: do as I do as a management tool one of the readers posted a message that struck a chord. Her response was: “management is really about common sense”. I agree wholeheartedly with her viewpoint. When I taught management courses at Northeastern University I always took a few minutes during the term to deviate from the textbook and give the students a valuable bit of advice from my years of experience. I told them that in cases where they were unsure what to do to always remember what I was about to write on the board. I then wrote in large letters the words “Common Sense”.

I reminded them that in every situation a strong dose of common sense would help them handle the matter, and would not steer them wrong. However, there were three variables they had to learn to master when utilizing common sense. The first variable was emotion, in particular their emotion. Learning to manage one’s emotions is a key ingredient in learning to become a capable manager. Making decisions or taking action when we are emotional or governed by our emotions is a recipe for failure. Controlling our emotions prior to decisions or actions is a great first step to success.

Second, we have to trust our common sense. In most of our cases common sense comes from the same places: our upbringing, our education, our reading and our experiences. It’s there in varying degrees for all of us. The key is to trust it when called upon.

Third, we have to remember to use our common sense in times of stress or difficulty. It’s there as an asset but we have to remember to utilize it.

To manage others we have to first learn to manage ourselves. The above references to common sense fall under that rule. If we know how to manage ourselves we can control our emotions when they most need to be controlled; we can give ourselves the confidence to trust our experiences and inner self when under stress; and we can have the calm and resolve to remember common sense in many instances is wisdom by another name.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, the writer said: “Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” This is a great reminder to all of us who aspire to be good managers.