Friday, January 9, 2015

Estate... uhm, well... Manager

Good managers have a bias for action.  - Tom Peters

My second favorite thing about universities is the opportunity they provide to expand notions, along the innumerable avenues one may choose. They just seem to be these incredible safe havens of discussion, thought experimentation, knowledge, research, and the added bonus of camaraderie while participating in any and all. And, although that's certainly possible in many other settings, there's just nothing quite the same. My first favorite, however, is that if you work yourself through a body of knowledge to the point where they confer a degree, then it's yours forever - and there's nothing or nobody that can ever take it away from you; it's truly a unique possession and I can't think of anything else in life that comes with a similar warranty, or could be considered quite as stable. So stable, in fact, you could even disagree or dismiss everything you've learned - and they still wouldn't reverse, erase, or otherwise snub you from your past endeavor.

That's the experience I bumped up against this week, and although I wouldn't say I've gone so far as to dismiss all things Leadership, for the first time in five years after graduating with a document that states I've rubbed up against it, I've allowed myself the delicious irreverence of dissing my own tribe and enjoying the safety of knowing it was okay. Like a lover's spat, it'll probably bring us back closer, but it sure was good to air out my grievance - albeit on a forum as rickety as the Internet.

Uhm... here we go again.... Leader... or Manager?
I do love Leadership. I'm just not in love with the relentless and careless marketing of it all. And it's so easily marketed because it's just not a quick read; perhaps by design. I could wax on with metaphors and snarky remarks, but no need; anyone reading this will probably understand. This may explain my own current interest with the (relatively) new burgeoning HR specialty field of Performance Improvement, an even narrower slice of the pie within the thin enough already recognition of Performance Management. For me anyway, it all helps to tether the concepts of Leadership to something I can actually get my hands around, not just my head - and which turns out to be that old-fashioned and ground level notion of, uhm, well, I'll just be brave and say it: management

The original article by Tim Sanders, Is The Leadership Boom Making Us Bad Managers?, may be found through the ISPI LinkedIn link here.

I think the (current) Leadership craze reflects society itself, where we teach kids they are all winners and all special at all times and have no accountability except to be recognized as special and to always focus on that, instead of focusing on actually producing something of value that can be defined. Leadership is very attractive (and addictive) because it hovers well at the 30,000 ft. level and can remain fuzzy, undefined, special, and just out of focus long enough for everyone to read into it what they want. Managers, however, have the accountable and difficult job of actually getting things done at the ground level, where customers (i.e., estate owners/employers) must actually write checks and pay our bills so that we can all eat and keep a roof over our heads. I graduated with a Leadership degree from a top national university and enjoyed every minute of the intellectual exercises, yet I'd rather be known as an effective manager, any day.  - Jim Grise

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