9 unconventional cures for the 'common corporation'

Management guru says much of the current management thinking is wrong; urges more holistic, 'systems' thinking to business problems.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

People are an organization's greatest asset, right?  And micromanagement is the bane of productivity, correct? And managers jumping in the trenches to work alongside their team members is surely a good practice. Wrong, says one management guru, who says such thinking has actually been killing productivity in recent times.

In his soon-to-be-released book, Paid to Think: A Leader's Toolkit for Redefining Your Future, David Goldsmith urges business leaders and managers to adopt "enterprise thinking," which takes a more holistic and unsiloed view of their organizations.

Here are 9 ways in which Goldsmith urges a "rethink":

  1. Leadership and management should be one in the same. The mindset of leaders being in ivory towers and managers working the front lines needs to change," says Goldsmith. Regardless of their titles, decision makers need the skills of both disciplines."
  2. Your mind is what's of greatest value to your organization. "If you are a decision maker, your greatest value comes not from your hands but your mind. "You weren't hired to put out fires, to jump into the trenches and work alongside your employees, to make your team feel loved, or even charm the board of directors," says Goldsmith. "Your true value comes from your ability to develop successful strategies and to ensure that all organizational resources are orchestrated to reach desired outcomes."
  3. Rethink what constitutes "winning." "Many decision makers put a lot of pressure on themselves to come up with the next killer idea. In fact, great rewards are oftentimes the result of minor factors that cause us to win or lose 'by a nose.'"  and, often, Goldsmith points out, "a micro adjustment can determine a by-the-nose win or loss."
  4. Rethink your belief that people hate change. Goldsmith urges readers to seek out the opportunity for WSPs, or "wildly successful projects." These usually aren't the easy projects, but "the projects that others consider to be undesirable or challenging to pull off." Once you are known for WSPs, "you can easily gain buy-in on future projects from the stakeholders who play a role in your success."
  5. There's nothing new about "doing more with less." There's nothing new about the concept of doing more with less; every generation of leaders has faced this challenge. And it is a chance to innovate and move in new directions. "It is a natural progression of potential opportunity, and it will always be. As you've been asked to do more with less, so, too, will those working in the year 2038 or 2078."
  6. Teach people how to think, not just how to do. Countless numbers of leaders gain much of their education from on-the-job training, where they watch and mimic the behaviors of others," says Goldsmith. However, missing in the lesson is how the mentoring leader thinks, and why he or she takes the actions he or she takes. "I consistently see a vast majority of decision makers who miss the distinction between teaching thought versus teaching action."
  7. Rethink the time needed to make good decisions. Every situation and manager needs to arrive at decisions at a different pace. Avoid the extremes -- being a "Fast Shooter" who rushes to action without doing the homework, or "Paralysis Due to Analysis" thinker who spend too much time anguishing over the right course of action. "Also keep in mind that what looks like a hasty decision may not really be one," Goldsmith adds. What appears to be a "snap" decision may be based on years of intuition.
  8. No, employees aren't the most important part of your organization. This may seem to fly in the face of every piece of management advice ever made, but Goldsmith points out that this thinking may be counterproductive. Actually, he points out, "80% of an organization's ability to compete and perform is driven by its systems and structures, and only 20% by its people. Certainly, people are essential, but if yours got locked out of your building tomorrow, even the highest performers would struggle to achieve."
  9. Micromanagement is good. Micromanagement can be extremely effective not when a boss is breathing down employees' necks, but when it helps people reach their goals faster. "Effective micromanagement through setting structure, developing strategy and plans, creating reliable systems for others, and teaching people how to be independent thinkers can actually empower others to do their jobs with little involvement from you at all."

(Photo: Alyssa McKendrick.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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