Denigration

Let’s rethink 2015.

Like you perhaps I’m an avid reader of blogs, post, articles, links etc related to the art and science of organization behavior, or, how work gets done. And perhaps also like you I’ve noted a trend that started certainly before the current year, yet has reached new heights (depths) in 2014.

The denigration of management.

In fact, with every new write I see on leadership the disconnect becomes clearer and clearer: to be succesful in career we must all lose the shackles of the management halter and move onto leadership be it charismatic, visionary, creative or just plain situational.

The message? Winners lead, losers manage.

As my good friends across the water say, bollocks.

It’s time we step back for a moment, take a deep breath and think about this a little more critically. If we’re all running about jumping onboard the leadership train, who in the hell is driving?

Now, before you toss this blog away and prepare to ship me the obligatory lump of coal let me assert I am not anti-leadership. I’ve had the privilege of working for some incredible leaders and yes, I dare say I’ve exhibited rarefied leadership capability myself on occasion. I dig leadership.

And yet I recognize, and ask you to consider where we’d be without sound functional management. It’s time we stopped thinking either/or and started thinking both. And. Management and leadership.

Stop knocking management.

Consider:

  • Steve Jobs’ vision may have created the Apple Store experience when many (including me!) laughed at the concept of yet another retail expereince, especially a brick and mortar model in an Internet world. Steve’s vision was sound, but it is relentless focusing on the details and execution that make transacting business at the store such a joy
  • Like them or not Starbucks figured out how to get you your favorite beverage and treat quickly and efficiently. Over and over and over. That may be a goal of leadership but it is absolutely a function of management
  • The reason dealing with REI is so enjoyable, on-line or in person, is not just that they have a compelling story but that their company has a relentless focus and hires only those person who share that passion and focus. That’s called constancy of purpose or management

Of course there are legion examples of bad management – Jordan Belfort’s story in the Wolf of Wall Street comes to mind – but there are many examples of sound management too. A clear vision, compelling dedication, relentless focus, measurement, feedback, course correction and so on. We need management.

Let’s stop doing a disservice to those on the front end of their professional careers by pretending leadership is the only tool they’ll need. If your only tool is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail.

Managing is yet another tool, and it is necessary. That it can be improved and stripped of needless add-ons there is no doubt. Yet, equally so, there is no doubt that we need it.

As you reflect on the year just closing and set plans for 2015 let’s recognize the value of managing and start celebrating those who get things done through others.

If you’re going to hop on a train, it helps to have a good conductor.

 

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6 thoughts on “Denigration

  1. That was a zinger of a post Chris! And i loved it! Kudos for calling out the bandwagon…it’s refreshing to hear some logic in an all too passionate blogosphere at times. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    • Thank you Ernie! I appreciate the comments sir, and as always, try to start the conversation with a little thought about what we can and should to further our careers, profession and calling.

      Happy holidays my friend!

  2. There was a great discussion on this in a LinkedIn group I’m part of. I believe every job requires some elements of both management and leadership – how much of either in any job at any moment in time can vary based on the situation.

    Because of that I reckon ‘managers’ and ‘leaders’ need new job titles that remove both those words because neither does the whole job justice and they reinforce stereotypes of old.

    My big concern is that these elements of jobs are getting increasingly important but we haven’t cracked consistent, sustainable development in either leadership or management skills / ways of being…..but that’s a whole other story!!

    • But it’s a story we must penetrate Helen! I agree with you. It’s never either/or and it’s never static… Thanks for your thoughts! They are really helpful and full of insight!

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