No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Manage Resources, Lead People

You can't manage people. Or at least you shouldn't.

Management involves choosing how to use stuff, how to get the best result from an expenditure. Management is guiding day-to-day operations so that the work that gets done stays within the cost-benefit parameters your organization has decided are necessary. We manage stuff - time, money, processes, demand, expectations.

The problem with managing people (if that's even possible) is that managing is by definition manipulative and controlling. It denies the complexity of aspiration and motivation that makes people individuals. It suggests spending, using up, rather than developing.

People need to be led. People need to see the vision, they need to understand the context for the work, they need to see significance and feel fulfillment. They won't get any of those things if you think your job is to manage them.

That means the people part of your job requires you to be face to face. Schedules and money and machines can be managed with computers and spreadsheets. People need to be led by example, through relationships, and by teaching, coaching and encouragement.

Some people are natural managers but resist leading. If that's you, either change something or step down.

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