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Introduction to The Managerial Leadership Bible: Learning the Strategic, Organizational, and Tactical Skills Everyone Needs Today, 2nd Edition

Jeffrey Magee discusses the new view of management, which sends the signal that all players in a winning and thriving organization are accountable and responsible for both their own actions and the performance of the team overall, in this chapter from The Managerial Leadership Bible: Learning the Strategic, Organizational, and Tactical Skills Everyone Needs Today, 2nd Edition.
This chapter is from the book
  • Management today is reactive behavior. You put your hand on a hot stove and yank it off. A cat would know to do as much.
  • —W. Edwards Deming
  • The operational mindset of “heads” versus “hands” in an organization can no longer be allowed to exist. Every “hand” within an organization has a “head,” and all players have to be cultivated and empowered to take ownership and use their heads while using their hands to make things happen!
  • —Jeff Magee
  • Learning Objective
  • After completing this section of the course, you will be able to discuss changing leadership styles to match contemporary business needs.

Traditional business school doctrine for decades professed lines of authority and responsibility, layers of bureaucracy, and lines of top-down accountability. Upper management layers were reserved for analysis and direction. Lower levels of management needed the hand and guidance of upper management; likewise, rank-and-file workers needed the hand and guidance of middle managers for productivity, implementation, and success.

In today’s climate, the managerial leadership style needed to be effective must be fluid, one of strategic collaboration yet decisive execution. This flexibility allows organizations to adapt to changing business cycles; the influx of differing genders, generations, ethnicity, education, and professional backgrounds; variances in individuals’ socioeconomic backgrounds,

lifestyle, and personal aspirations; and elasticity within ethics, morals, standards-of-excellence, values, vision, and cultures. This flexibility, coupled with the following three forces, can be understood and leveraged for constructive gains, and if misunderstood and ill-utilized will spell organizational chaos:

  1. Strategy— The where we are going and why factors
  2. Operations— The who, when, and what factors
  3. Tactics— The how factors

The style of management that worked or appeared to work for decades across the globe, especially during the post-World War II era that gave rise to the industrial complex and then to the information age, no longer works in today’s service and technology world. The old models of management and leadership actually stifle growth and productivity in workers today. Studies of traditional management styles and hierarchies—bureaucratic and auto-cratic—that are imposed (“heads” versus “hands”) show them doing more damage to overall organizational growth in the long term today than alternative styles of managerial leadership.

To illustrate this management trend, consider that the traditional and “old school” management styles resemble a pyramid. Front-line workers and entry-level positions are at the bottom of the pyramid (typically closest to daily realities and customers). Mid-level managers and supervisors are in the middle (typically facing daily operational issues and becoming removed from the daily pulse of reality). Finally, senior-level managerial leaders or executive-level functionaries are at the top (typically concentrating on the future direction of the organization and industry and, unfortunately, extremely removed from the actual daily realities of the front line). At the top of this model place a large letter “M” as your symbol for where “management” is located. Does your organization resemble this model?

The Wharton School of Business studied this traditional format and organizational structure and found a wide range of awareness levels among individuals and their ability to pinpoint the challenges and problems facing an organization.

They found that the rank-and-file workers could identify roughly 44 percent of the challenges and problems facing an organization on a regular daily basis.

Upper layers of management break down dramatically. Middle and upper levels of management could identify roughly 14 percent of the challenges and problems facing an organization. Senior management could identify roughly 4 percent.

Traditional organizational structure breeds contempt, apathy, and lower levels of participation. It also stifles communication of upward ideas and concerns. The lines of authority were/are well defined, and individuals are often in a position of seeking permission to be real implementers of success.

A study by USA Today and Gallup also revealed in the workplace today that the demographic breaks down into three influence groups as well, and any organization can experience this manifestation if it is not consciously engaged 24/7:

  • Fifty-six percent of workers indicated that they are “disengaged” today—that is, complacent. Managerial leadership effectiveness can address this.
  • Fifteen percent are “actively disengaged” and are so bitter and narcissistic that they poison the efforts of others and can derail an entire organization, further eroding culture and the foundations of survival.
  • Twenty-nine percent are “engaged” and serve as the catalyst to daily return on investment (ROI) and actually produce the work that job description and job expectations indicate.

How can a company turn around or redirect this flow of percentages and stimulate inner activity among players for greater success and rewards? Consider the new view of organizational culture and climate, or the DNA of dynamics. Consider the need for each of the previously mentioned layers (senior management, mid-level management, staff) as still relevant to an organization, but imagine four circles on a page, connected with lines indicating their fluid ability to interface with one another, as needed for ultimate organizational effectiveness and success.

What the new view of organizational structure (whether called teams, work groups, self-directed work groups, total quality management, empowerment, strategic business units, and so on) advocates is an image of team and player equality with respect to the need for profitability of the organization. This image sends the visual message of player equality. The traditional diagram of organizational structure holds that an individual is equal only to his colleagues’ level and subordinate to those players above him (see previous discussion). Many times this is a challenging situation, due to age, tenure, skill level, and accomplishment differences of individuals, even at a similar function level.

To illustrate this new managerial leadership effectiveness model, consider four simple circles on a sheet of paper (or computer screen) placed in a manner that forms a square, as shown in Figure 1.1. In essence, the new view allows for an equal-sized circle for each player. Notice that the need for management is still present; therefore one of the circles could have a letter “M.” Only now you are telling players that “management” has the job of ensuring results and that a manager will assist players in performing their functions. However, management will not be ultimately responsible for a player’s position. Old-time traditional management sent that message, which is why many times at the end of the day, workers would be gone and management would still be there—completing others’ jobs!

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 New management model

The new view of management sends the signal that all players in a winning and thriving organization are accountable and responsible for both their own actions and the performance of the team overall.

If the team wins, each player wins. If the team loses, ultimately each player loses. Characteristics of the new view of organization imply that some of the following ingredients are present:

  • Each player is accountable to one another and to himself or herself, with ultimate authority still going to the one player who is responsible and leads the team in a mutually agreed upon direction. But specific key performance indicators (KPIs) must always be identified and assigned.
  • Cross-training and functional awareness are both initiated at all levels and fostered among all players and the now-flattened hierarchical layers.
  • Interactive and nonconfrontational communication occurs among players and teams (of departments, units, layers, regions and geographies, vendors, customers, and players), both internally and externally in an organization, in a fluid manner.
  • Interdependence develops among players so they become proactive and not reactive.
  • Vertical and horizontal movement and advancement occur within the organization between the players and the management team.
  • Lateral, vertical, and horizontal synergy and development occur on a regular basis.
  • Teams (departments, lines, and so on) are lean, yet they generate a high yield factor.
  • Everyone understands that his or her operational center must be highly effective and efficient, and thus must be a stand-alone profit center for the organization as well (whether a not-for-profit business or a commercial enterprise).
  • Management and labor are blended, and no one is allowed to excuse away low or poor performance.
  • The rule book is constantly being written and revised for success. No one is allowed to justify slow performance or apply excessive man-hours (personnel) to any one task simply because the book says they must do so.

Ultimate advancement of an organization focuses on management ground zeros. An organization today cannot afford to have its marketable advantages rest on traditional business-school organizational resources: structure, financial budgets, and products/resources. Management by these three factors alone will lead to “dead zones” far more often than any other single factor.

Let’s back up and look at some historical facts with present-day implications. As Peter Drucker warned in his 1973 classic Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, in a ground zero market, any of these three major resources can be attained, refined, and even expanded upon by your organization. Yet a competitor can—and many times will—attain and deliver better on these three than you. Many times a traditional management structure works to protect these three factors at the expense of the customers—the people on the team on the inside and those on the outside who make your existence possible.

Therefore, the only truly marketable and lasting advantage point is not just how you enter a marketplace with your “deliverables” or what “distribution channels” you deploy to reach and own a market, it is the unique leveraging and unleashing of your “people factor” today.

As some entrepreneurs and business leaders evaluate other market entrants or leaders to discover what their secret sauce to success is, the reality is that it is always based within the following:

  • Strategy— Driven by core stakeholders’ values and vision to set the direction of opportunities
  • Operations— The systems for advancing that strategy and the interlinked KPIs and more importantly accountability mechanisms to attain and measure success
  • Tactics— The actual behaviors and actions in motion to make your market actualize

The basic theme of Jim Collins’s popular book Good to Great is “Get the right people on your bus, the wrong ones off, and then put people in the right place,” regardless of other temptations to place people into positions of incompetency. This is known as the Peter Principle, whereby some individuals rise to a level and position beyond their skill set and beyond their will to perform, thereby becoming a derailment to others’ effectiveness and organizational success. This book focuses on developing and maximizing that resource—the “people” factor.

Given the need for flexibility in the midst of the chaos and professional challenges facing you daily, you must have immediate alternatives for improving employee interactions and for leading the company to greater efficiency and profitability. Cutting staff and making only gradual quality improvements as a business map to greater profitability and growth is a dangerous road to travel.

Let’s look at what happened during the late 1990s and first quarter of the new century on the American and the global marketplace. In 2000, the dot-com “phantom” industry arrived, only to implode as fast as it came.

We could study business phenomena such as KODAK, Krispy Kreme Donuts, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Google, Facebook, Amazon.com, Howard Johnson’s, Alibaba, Tesla Motors, Holiday Inn, and a host of others. The historical trends of these brands—some alive and thriving and others dead and gone—all provide the managerial leader of today with powerful clues from yesterday to set a trajectory for tomorrow.

The examples of global businesses, national businesses, regional businesses, and even your own business can be seen within the pages of this text; my examples don’t matter. Success leaves clues and so too does failure. Recognize, analyze, learn, and chart your course for sustained success.

In almost every business failure, the key factor management fails to pay attention to is the people factor.

Jack Welch at GE taught the world in the last century the science of and necessity for leadership development as well. By designing the on-boarding process, career pathway development track, and talent management environment, Jack Welch build a leadership development system and machine.

The ability to strike when opportunity knocks is critical to management and organizational success. To empower themselves and those within their organizations to take calculated initiatives and to advance causes, the front-line leaders within an organization (managers, supervisors, team leaders, work group facilitators, executive staffers, owners, and so on) have to understand what the organization is about and how the players fit into that picture. Individuals placed in leadership and management positions need to realize there are a lot of techniques and strategies to be incorporated in people management.

Traditional management focused upon the effective use of resources in its environment to accomplish desired results. For management to do this, there has to be new vitality within the leadership of an organization. Traditional management and traditional management-school ideology taught that management’s function in an organization is to maintain primary participation in five key areas:

  • Controlling
  • Coordinating
  • Directing
  • Organizing
  • Planning

From the traditional, five-key management responsibilities, management today must focus on additional factors and empower those around it to assume both responsibility and accountability for the preceding five areas, as well as other directional maps. Among these interaction maps (habits, styles, techniques, strategies, purpose, values, mission, culture, generationally influenced approaches to work, and so on) is the need for developed and understood mission statements. The fastest way to growth and productivity is a well-defined mission statement. Within organizations today, there must be several different yet interlinked mission statements (see Chapter 2 , “Five Mission Statements for Ultimate ‘New View’ Success”). The new view of management incorporates flexibility and a willingness and ability to make adjustments in how one interacts, motivates, and thus manages the only true management advantage—the people.

The starting point for managing winning teams is to gain a better understanding of how people interact with one another and how mission statements impact their interaction.

Sidney Yoshida, a guidance quality expert in Japan, invested a significant amount of his life studying the structure of business organizations and the interaction abilities of players within the group. Yoshida’s studies also include the awareness of players—at all levels in an organization—regarding problems, customer concerns, growth concerns, and overall challenges.

Startling statistics have been garnered from focus groups regarding the level of awareness of players within these organizations and at differing levels (from rank-and-file through senior management). In many cases a culture has been created whereby many players hide from senior management the problems they experience. Yoshida found that:

  • Senior management was aware of roughly 4 percent of problems.
  • Upper middle management was aware of roughly 9 percent of problems.
  • Middle management was aware of roughly 74 percent of daily problems.
  • Rank-and-file workers could identify and were aware of roughly 100 percent of the daily problems facing an organization and its related customers.

I have found this to be true in my decades of personal work with the United States Cabinet-level departments, governors, military command structure, Fortune 100 firms, major entrepreneurial organizations and leaders, and business across the global marketplace.

All factors being equal in the global marketplace today, business leaders, managers, and individuals operating within business markets have to empower themselves and others to obtain maximum results and peak operational performance on a daily basis.

The traditional hierarchy and organizational charts of the first part of the last century must evolve into a more team-focused environment for this new century. Organizations are facing a new pattern of change from internal constituents and external constituents, traditional operating factors, and now virtual realities. And add to this the reality that every year organizations face tighter budgets and leaner staffs, while at the same time workloads increase.

The human machine is dynamic and fascinating. Given these factors of change and human capital evolution, almost every department and organization must meet these new demands for performance, but in many cases set new performance records. How do groups of peopl facing these factors make this happen in a sustained fashion? Teaming!

Whether you call your group of people a department, work group, quality focus group, independent work team, self-directed work group, or self-directed team, they all exhibit various dynamics of being part of a team.

The performance of people in a peak relationship is dependent upon players being able to interact and share successfully with one another without apprehension. When a player fears the outcome of interacting with another player (whether laterally or vertically), the dynamics of a team will break down, as Yoshida found in his studies.

Focusing the efforts and energies of all players, while reducing the actual interaction and hand-holding time by management, is the thrust of Chapter 2 . Whether it is achieved independently of others or with others, success comes from leadership and clear vision of what each step in the business operation is, does, and should be.

Explore alternative ways for managing the resources around you, and leading the people who will be part of these interactions and successes in both your professional and personal life!

The postwar business philosophy of the 1950s and 1960s, “make it and they will buy it,” doesn’t apply today; it did for 50 years. Organizations today need to take into account the people factor (and generational diversity as a strategic asset has changed the landscape) as the marketable growth and success factor. People may very well be the single greatest strategic asset in the new ground zero, managerial leadership environment of the business place. For this reason management and leadership must look for and apply alternative management and leadership techniques and methodologies to survive.

The shift from product to people is illustrated throughout this book. I offer a multitude of techniques and ideas from today’s most successful teams and organizations. This book serves as both your strategic and tactical playbook for essential managerial leadership effectiveness. Witness the new approaches to management and leadership across America today!

This information, field tested in the form of customized skill development training courses, is now captured in book form. Here are just some of the teams across America that are successfully incorporating these managerial leadership points:

  • Government—The United States Army National Guard implemented a major thrust in training the senior officer corps at its national Professional Educational Center’s Strength Maintenance Training Center (PEC SMTC), resulting in multiple Commander’s Coin for Excellence awards for the managerial leadership lifestyle changes and positive results yielded, and within individual states on many command levels.
  • Industry—Pharmaceutical, banking, B2B, B2C, manufacturing, and associations have recognized, adopted, and implemented this intellectual property into their respective courseware training approach for their people assets.
  • Professional certification—CPE, CLE, CUE, and others— Hundreds of accredited hours of self-study have been drawn out from this text alone and parallel content.

As you explore each page and each idea, and the applicability to you and those you influence, consider this your Managerial Leadership Bible. It is continually being field tested and continually yielding significant success as a blueprint for how to manage and lead individuals and groups to greater levels of excellence.

Managerial Leadership Bible Lesson One

Successful managerial leaders realize that organizational success starts daily, by asking themselves this question: What can be done to create a lean operational structure conducive to positive attitudes, excellence in aptitude, and fluid interpersonal lines of communication and interaction among players?

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