A recent piece by Dr. Glenn Bassett in the AMA Playbook hits several nails square on the head. I fully agree with his emphasis on developing and encouraging teamwork and team commitment, continuous efforts to inform employees and ask for their input and buy-in for both planning and operations, and exercising authority "with great restraint and delicacy." That's just for starters on the manager's TO DO list. Bassett’s advice is commendable, but I think it mostly falls on deaf ears.
A recent, related piece in The Atlantic is curiously entertaining. Jerry Useem mentions some relatively new research that seems germane to the endless pursuit of understanding what makes a manager tick and what makes a good manager. I'll risk over-simplifying when I say it's interesting to me that Useem says some behaviors and personality types are shared by the best and the worst managers. This suggests some element of randomness that may or may not deflate his theme.
My principal criticism is that Useem's article is focused on behaviors and personality types, and largely ignores actual operational competence on the part of the manager. He says (p. 54) "The problem with competence is that we can't judge it by looking at someone...So we rely on proxies--superficial cues for competence that we take and mistake for the real thing." Exactly. In my management career I knew literally hundreds of co-workers who assumed that the high bosses knew what they were doing, often without proof and/or despite evidence to the contrary.
We’ve got a long way to go before we fully understand why there aren’t enough good managers and good leaders. I think a big part of the explanation is there aren’t enough competent managers to fill all the slots.
Plain and simple. I think it’s a systematic defect in most organizations.
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.