Saturday, December 13, 2003

The Five Minds of a Manager

In the November issue of Harvard Business Review, Jonathan Gosling and Henry Mintzberg authored an article by this title (click for a free summary or to download for $7, if you don't have the article). I was so intrigued by the article, I'm going to attempt to learn it better by summarizing it myself in the next several blog entries, as it applies to any of us attempting to lead a Lean Transformation.

While I am unfamiliar (until now) with Mr. Gosling's work, Mr. Mintzberg has been a key light to me for over 15 years. His insight into organizations has been very influential for me. (thanks again to my friend, Ann Marie Ott, a deep thinker who put me on to Mintzberg's work in the late 80s) So, his name drew me to the article.

Their key premise is that our fascination with "leadership" has made the term "management" seem less noble, less appealing. Yet, we badly need both. Their summary:

Just as management without leadership encourages an uninspired style, which deadens activities, leadership without management encourages a disconnected style, which promotes hubris.

Whoa. What's hubris?

From Encyclopedia Britannica, hubris is defined, in classical Greek ethical and religious thought, to be an overweening presumption suggesting complete disregard of the limits governing human action in an orderly universe. It is the sin to which the great and gifted are most susceptible

So, the authors succinctly grasp that the leader who does not manage is not only disconnected, but risks missing the normal limits surrounding human action.

Put more simply, that leader can become an emperor with "New Clothes".

I've seen this in a number of settings. When "leadership" is held up to be the "only thing" and the nuts and bolts of management are ignored or put down, the leader always becomes more distant and unable to relate to the real world of her/his people. It is a scary thing.

So, desiring to neither be uninspired nor disconnected, I read on.

The authors propose that the effective manager be one who can actively synthesize five different mindsets:

  • Managing Self: the reflective mind-set
  • Managing organizations: the analytic mind-set
  • Managing context: the worldly mind-set
  • Managing relationships: the collaborative mind-set
  • Managing change: the action mind-set

The authors claim, and I agree, that this framework allows one to make sense out of complicated and confusing situations. I'll discuss each of these in future entries. I hope you find it helpful.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

No comments: