The ability to manage groups and organizations effectively and responsibly is one of the most important and most valued skills in society today. But good management is rare. If you think of the really good managers you have had in your career, the number will probably be small.
There are plenty of ways to manage poorly – and one of the most important is to fall victim to “theoretical overkill.” Hundreds of faddish approaches to management are put forward each year by academics, consultants, and business writers. It’s no wonder managers are often frustrated and confused by “theories” that don’t match “practice.”
Managing well is really not that hard. All that is required are a few simple ideas, practiced with patience, sincerity, and good will.
In a new mini-book, Just Plain Good Management, you will find dozens of common-sense lessons shared by the best managers in public, private, and nonprofit organizations in this country and around the world. These lessons represent the core skills and ideas that guide good management today. They are not the lessons of the past, but those of today – the new management.
After all, it’s a new world. Hierarchy is a relic. Top-down is history. The word “boss” is an anachronism. In the new management, the old skills of structure, control, and rational planning just won’t work. The management capabilities of the coming decades will include flexibility, adaptability, agility, empathy, resilience, negotiation, compromise, conflict resolution, and collaboration. Both experienced and aspiring managers will need to learn these new skills and lessons along with those that have stood the test of time.
To be the best manager you can be, you must regularly transform yourself. Everything around you is changing and you have to change too. Today we are moving to greater autonomy and adaptability in the workplace. Managers frozen in the styles of the past won’t be able to keep up with the new world these ideas present.
Managers will have to adapt to the cultural times and spaces in which they live. Read the best books, recite great poetry, watch the best movies, listen to the best music, study art and architecture, and tune into the currents of heroism and adventure in your time. Study the lives of your cultural heroes. They may provide lessons in how to adapt to and move your world.
Just Plain Good Management can provide a guide to exploring the traditional concepts that are key to management success as well as those that will propel us into the future.
In any case, keep the book close to where you work so you can check occasionally to see if you are following its ideas. Take time daily or weekly to reflect on these lessons and make them part of who you are as a manager.
Even better, meet regularly with others over coffee, lunch, or late-afternoon drinks and discuss the individual lessons presented in the book. Analyze, reflect on, and apply these lessons to you own work and that of others.
The basic ideas aren’t that difficult, but, if practiced consistently, they can make your organization more productive and your community a better place to live. And you and your people will likely feel happier and more engaged than ever before.