Study notes – Essential Management

This weekend I started the reading exercises which form part of our pre-work for our first intensive’s next week.  Before getting started with the reading, I oriented myself with the university web resources and then did some pre-reading about how to do critical analysis and tips for improving reading and research skills.

Our first topic is a critical analysis of Leadership and Management which is accompanied by a look at the essentials of management.  Through the course of the weekend I learned about the advances that have been made in the theory of management and leadership – which I drew up as a timeline. 

Brief timeline of management theory

From my reading it appears that early theory into management and leadership focused itself on the ‘man’ and the individual skills that are requisite for managers.  The earliest reading came from way back; Confucius’ "5 qualities to pursue and 4 evils to avoid", give us some insight into the behaviours that good leaders possess, while Tao’s 12 management abilities cover some behavioural and capabilities that are deemed to be good.

From the early 1900’s through to current times, many scholars have written papers about what is needed in a good manager.  My interpretation is that the early thinkers such as Fayol and Weber concerned themselves mostly with the individual and his personal traits but that, through the century, the scope of research fanned out to cover much more of the situational and environmental aspects in which the manager operates.  Interesting experiments such as the Hawthorne effect may have been instrumental in helping with this shift of focus.

By the middle of the century, people such as Likert – who encouraged a more participative style of management – and Deming, with his more logical, statistical mind, whose work with the Japanese was to herald the beginnings of TQM, helped to shifted the focus more towards a cultural approach that the leader/manager creates.

During the ’60’s, Robert Blake and Jane Mouton gave us the Managerial Grid Model – which is more of a style-based approach based on Theory X and Theory Y.  These theories assume that the worker is either inherently lazy or inherently ambitious.  The Managerial Grid Model places different leadership styles within a grid showing where a manager might place effort in an attempt to harness or to counteract these employee behaviours.

By late in the century, having seen managers through all of these various ‘lenses’ – traits, environment, situation, culture, and leadership style, Mintzberg – a prolific author of management and organizational theory – produced his glorious paper on integrative management.  This paper produced a model which focuses on no single attribute or environmental detail but instead frames the user in the middle and fans out to explain the context within which the user operates.  I found this model to be a terrific guide for looking at a role from the viewpoint of another person.  This, I would hope, leads to increased self-awareness (the next study chapter that I’m about to start) and a journey towards more enlightened and capable leadership on my own behalf.

By the end of the century, Drucker who coined the term knowledge worker was at the forefront of the new age of the knowledge economy and Senge, who studied Organisational learning are at the edge of a new era of management where I believe that adaptability and change management skills, along with the ability to embrace new technology, will see a further redefining of how we view managers.  Already people such as Kibok Baik, have identified new models of management which take some of these knowledge and learning features into account in his paper on Change Leadership.  I haven’t fully read about change leadership (the original paper is written in korean) but from what I can tell, it feels much more suited to like self-organizing structures – such as crowdsourcing.

Essential Management

I did a great deal of reading on that timeline and it was very enjoyable.  This afternoon I followed this up by doing some pure theory based learning on particular management topics.  These were:

  • Traits of leaders versus managers
  • Emotional Competencies (self awareness, empathy, emotional management)
  • Management Skills
  • Ethics, Trust, and Culture
  • Assessment and selection techniques
  • Coaching

A lot of reading, and I’m really looking forward to getting into a class environment to learn about what other’s gleaned from their own reading of this subject matter.


~ by D on January 27, 2008.

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