Managing is often defined as situational, “getting things done (task focus) and through people (relationship focus)”; specifically planning, organising, controlling tasks, encouraging, and developing people. Where operating involves the manager performing functions that do not fall within the role of either leading or managing.
After all the courses, certification, books and articles on the subject, why so little change in our managers? Three likely answers.
- Do managers know what to do? Many managers have been promoted into their positions due to their technical abilities/success and providing them with people management skills is an afterthought. Most job descriptions don’t even mention leadership or management aspects of their role. Do managers have the emotional intelligence and personal attributes for building productive working relationships?
- Do managers know how to do it? While academically trained mangers may know what needs to be done, they often don’t have the practical experience to know how to do it. Managers need to be skilled in conflict resolution, problem-solving, team-building, performance management, etc. This comes from a combination of training and on the job application/coaching. And communicating effectively on a consistent basis appears to be the greatest challenge for many managers.
- Does the organisation support good management and leadership? There is often no system in place which recognises, supports or rewards the application of good people management techniques. Very few organisations have KPIs that extend to how managers should be achieving team or individual outputs. Only a relatively small number of organisations use their performance management system to measure and reward effective leadership and people management. It must start at the very top of the organisation, as people do what they are rewarded for doing.
The good news is that something can be done about this situation. There is evidence, almost impossible to refute, that “transformational” or enlightened leadership, together with the application of effective management styles and techniques will bring about, clear, specific and measurable organisational improvement.
There is a direct correlation between good leadership and people management and overall organisation effectiveness. And the other really good news is that both leadership and management can be learnt. Studies show that us that all the competencies of Emotional Intelligence can be acquired by leaders and managers, as can most other leadership and management competencies.
What managers really need are practical tools and techniques to help them improve their leadership and management abilities; and, a system which constantly reinforces and rewards the application of these tools and techniques.