Sunday, March 17, 2013

How to loose your job by being a good manager

If you have done any formal eduction in management and leadership you will know that these terms are different and have profound practical differences.

Let me give you an example. I once worked for an IT manager who was a very good manager. His planning skills were great, fantastic attention to detail, he was organised, he was able to get the team organised and he controlled the activities quite well, ensuring that deadlines were met and the department operated within the budget constraints. These are the basic functions from a manager, planning, organising and controlling.

This manager was always prepared for his meetings and he was very proud of being logical and getting people on his side using his critical thinking and argumentative skills. However what he didn't realised that he didn't win every argument because people agreed with him, instead, he was always right because nobody could argue him out of his views, even if they didn't agree. He was actually very good at presenting his views and getting others to "agree" with him.

I must confess that I thought that working under him was great. The team was producing good outcomes and delivering projects on time and within budget.

However something was happening in the background. Other mangers and directors were getting resented of
his approach and attitude. He was always right and never prepared to give up on his views, even when most people had differing opinions. To cut a long story short, he is a now a very happy man who got a very big redundancy package and, given his age, has retired.

He had very good management skills but very poor leadership and people management skills. His strong management skills, and lack of leadership, git him to a redundancy.

So what went wrong. I observed the entire thing trying to learn what to do and what not to do. Working under him I learned a lot about management and also learned a lot how not to deal with people.

Management skills are very important and managers need to be strong when necessary. However people need to be truly on the manager's side rather than compelled to do what he says just because he is always right.

So what are the differences between management and leadership? I have come across many articles that explain the difference. In his 1989 book “On Becoming a Leader,” Warren Bennis composed a list of the differences, as follows:

– The manager administers; the leader innovates.
– The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
– The manager maintains; the leader develops.
– The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
– The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
– The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
– The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
– The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
– The manager imitates; the leader originates.
– The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
– The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
– The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

I don't necessarily agree with every point above. For example, I don't agree when he says that a manager has a short-range view and a leader a long-range perspective. A manager can be strategic as well as manage short term deadlines.

I often say that managers must lead their organisations to achieve the set objectives. A manager can also be a leader, and vice-verse.


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