The Importance of Managing Things and Leading People

David Norman | | Leadership Improvement

Some people — most people — rarely or never get to leadership. They’re too busy telling people what to do, directing them on what to do.

If you go back to the old management books that were published up to and including into the 90s, management was taught from a Plan, Organize, Direct and Control mentality. That’s the way the Management textbooks were organized, that the role of managers is to plan the work, organize the work, direct the work, control the work.

Just listen to those four words: plan, organize, direct, control. They’re all active from the manager position, not involving everyone else in the organization. Management’s role is to plan, organize, direct, control.

But lately, management theory has been taught from a behavioral aspect. While managers may have an obligation to look for better ways to do something, they’re not taught or encouraged to strip their ego and the answers they think they have. Therefore, we as managers or we as  employees don’t learn.

Even a manager can ask a simple question like, “Is there a better way to do this?” I don’t hear that a lot. From managers, it’s do this, do that, fix this, finish this report. That’s not leadership. You manage things, lead people.

Most managers don’t know how to get into someone else’s head and help them extract what’s good. Managers simply make an assumption about the action or make an assumption from their own framework.

Different organizational folks have different assumptions. Based on their assumptions of what their roles are, sometimes it gets into loggerheads, nothing happens. You have to ask the right questions to bring them together to produce change.

I’ll challenge leaders to find five good questions, ten good questions. Memorize them, learn to use them. You’ll surprise yourself. There’s the first step.

When you feel like you’re ready to provide an answer, stop, listen — listen until it hurts — then ask a question. That’s the way you start. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you get out of it.

Copyright © 2015 - David Norman