Since when did the word “management” get such a bad rap? Why do executives all
want to be known as great “leaders” but worry that the words “good manager” in their performance review are the kiss of death to higher aspirations? The notion that management is bad and leadership is somehow good has grown out of a decades-old idea that there is a dichotomy between the two and that, as the Wall Street Journal once put it, people don’t want to be managed, they want to be led.
Management skills are denigrated or completely overlooked in the popular literature of business these days, while books on leadership are perennial bestsellers, no matter how half-baked their theories may be. Management is frequently characterized as old school and fear-driven, while leadership is seen as enlightened and trust-based. Management is seen as the province of number-crunching mid-level drones, while
leadership is the creative work of extraordinary or even heroic figures.
My own premise is that the dichotomy here is a false one. Management skills and leadership “jazz” are both essential elements in building and sustaining a healthy and productive organization in today’s world. It’s curious that we spend billions of dollars annually on leadership development without any real evidence to show that it actually
works, while training in the fundamentals of management is neglected in many organizations. Yet something important is lost when the functions of good management are overlooked.
There are some encouraging signs that the pendulum is beginning to swing back, and that good management is being recognized as complementary to, rather than opposed to, strong leadership. Management practices are what bring order and focus to an
otherwise chaotic environment, and good management is a distinct professional set of knowledge and activities that is necessary to achieving consistent and reproducible results. We’re starting to see more emphasis on strategy and execution, vision and organization, creativity and structure, motivation and measurement. Maybe it’s a tougher economy, maybe the natural arc of events; in any case, good management is good for business.
One important way to align your organization is to include a set of core management practices along with your core business processes and your core values. Focus on developing a common set of management practices that can be explained and taught to managers at all levels. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you begin:
- What are the current management practices in your organization? Where are
the areas of commonality? Where are there differences, and why?
- Is there a good understanding of management fundamentals by all levels of managers? Are the fundamentals being practiced? If not, why not?
- Are your management practices tied to your organization’s strategy, goals, and expectations for its managers?
What management practices need to be developed to address key gaps in your organization’s performance and business results?
- Is there a system in your organization for mentoring and coaching managers in the fundamentals of good management, and how to apply them to your particular organizational context?
Looking at management as a part of the whole system of your organization will help you
develop a more appreciative understanding of its value to your bottom line. Good management should fit hand-in-glove with your approach to leadership. Without one, the other isn’t very likely to succeed.
Are you satisfied with your ability to integrate good management with leadership fundamentals? What if you could be more sure that your business strategies will actually be successfully implemented? If you’ve got a big challenge confronting you
now, or you just want to get better at self-management to prepare for future challenges, let’s talk about how coaching can work for you. Call (410)626-6008, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you complete a project or assignment, take time to reflect on what made it successful. Ask yourself what management practices you employed that worked well and were key to the
outcome of the project. How can you apply these practices to other situations that are common in your organization? How can you help others learn about and adopt these practices?
What could have gone better, and what management practices might have contributed to improved performance on this project? How can you learn about other management practices that might have worked well in this situation?
By focusing on what you and the organization learned, rather than only on how you performed on a project, you’ll be applying one of the fundamentals of good management – continuous learning.
Employees don’t feel that their company’s leaders are communicating well with them,
according to a new study of about 25,000 workers by consulting firm Towers Perrin. Only 42% of employees feel that their senior leadership demonstrates a "sincere interest" in their well-being, and just 51% say their companies are open and honest.
The stereotype of the "overworked American" who puts in more hours than ever before is only partly true, according to a new report by the American Sociological Association.
What’s happening is that more people—27% of working men, compared with 21% in 1970--are working longer hours. And more people are working shorter hours--9 %, compared with just 5 % in 1970. Employees are "increasingly divided between those who put in very long hours each week and who are concentrated in the better-paying jobs, and those who have comparatively short workweeks...and are more likely to be concentrated in the lower-paying jobs."
A new survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management and CareerJournal.com reveals that 75% of all workers are looking for new employment -- 35% of employees said they are actively job hunting and 40% are passively searching.Survey authors cite three reasons: better compensation, better career opportunities and dissatisfaction with opportunities at their current job. They attribute the dramatic rise in the numbers to an improving economy.
Software that includes any hostile programs that are meant to be destructive like viruses and worms. It is an abbreviation of malicious software. Current scourges of the computer world are spyware and adware, which have reached epidemic proportions and
are estimated to infect more than 25% of desktops PCs, and may be responsible for more than half the crashes of computers running Microsoft Windows. Nickname: scumware.
What the Bleep Do We Know, the movie, by William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, and Mark Vicente. What I like about it: Word-of-mouth is turning this independent film into an instant classic. It’s a thoroughly engaging exploration of quantum theory and the nature of reality that asks the really big questions: “Who am I” and “Why am I here?” Don’t
miss it. To find out more, including where it’s playing in your neighborhood, go to www.whatthebleep.com.
Executive Coach, Strategy Consultant
Principal, Bloomfield Associates
Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times
, by Donald T Phillips. What I like about it: This book is all about the executive leadership principles practiced by Lincoln, as taken from his writings. It’s a kick to read, especially if you like Civil War history.
Long-time friend and former colleague
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“Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.”
— Claude Bernard
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Beth’s article on managing yourself appeared in the October 2004 issue of “Advisor Notes”, the monthly newsletter of the Anne Arundel Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors. Beth was the featured speaker at the group’s annual awards presentation in November.