I was reflecting on a variety of things on my way back from my MFA residency yesterday. As I crossed the Sound on the ferry, I thought about business and change.
So much is changing, yet so much is the same when it comes to management. I remember Gary Hamel challenging us to come up with new models for management when he spoke at last year’s Global Institute for Leadership Development. Yes, some new models would be nice.
- For dealing with global teams, perhaps.
- For dealing with virtual workplaces, perhaps.
- For developing nimbleness, perhaps.
- For better using technology as part of your managerial practice, perhaps.
But when it comes to managing and leading people, I think less has changed. The gold standards are the gold standards. I don’t think we need another management book to tell us these things. Perhaps new books allow us to reinvent our management and give us new energy for what we already know are the best practices. New books certainly allow for different voices, which is always a good thing.
So much is changing, but so much is still the same.
We love working for people who bring out our best talents.
We love working for likable people.
We love working for people we feel we can trust.
We love working for people who demonstrate the courage to do what’s needed and right.
We love working for people who reduce hassle and increase opportunities to work on challenging tasks.
We love working for people who can plan and get results. We want to be members of winning teams.
We love working for people who are great coaches and catalysts.
We love working for people who fill our teams with rock stars.
We love working for people who clarify and share a compelling vision. And we love it when we get to provide our input – put our thumbprint on the vision.
Perhaps it’s the context of management and leadership that has changed and through which we need to produce excellence – but not management and leadership itself. Logic then, would suggest that management education and writing ought to focus on the contextual issues. Yes, that would be logical.
One problem – this logic assumes that because the best practices of management and leadership are enduring, that most managers and leaders have incorporated these practices into their regimens. Of course, we know this is not true. There are still many managers and leaders who would not be described by their employees as the people I have listed above.
So the management and leadership classes and books are still needed for these folks. But I wonder if these ineffective managers are more or less likely to attend classes and seek out reading. Alas, I suspect that the ineffective managers are not the ones seeking improvement – seeking to understand the best practices and apply them.
Ah, perhaps the management and leadership classes are needed for new managers. Yes, I can see that we will have thousands of new managers each year who need to learn the best practices. So yes, good management and leadership training is needed and it should focus on transition points – new management, going from supervision to middle management, middle management to senior management, and so on.