Two tips to good management
Julian Birkinshaw summarizes his book Becoming a Better Boss: Why Good Management Is So Difficult (London Business School, 14:25).
“People join companies but leave bosses.” More than just a cliché, this observation indicates the common failure of managerial recipes that list what attributes are required to be successful and appreciated as a boss to change behaviors. In reflecting on why “good” managers are still so hard to come by, despite the fact that everyone supposedly knows what it takes (listening, giving support and encouragement and praise, allowing autonomy and infusing work with meaning), the London Business School professor identifies two mindsets that facilitate the adoption of the desired behaviors.
1. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Whether it be through concrete experiences (assume an employee’s functions for a limited period of time) or simply by attempting to see the world through the eyes of others, trying to understand people’s reality will help managers to better understand and meet expectations.
2. Be aware of your own limits. The best (and most popular) managers are those who take satisfaction in sharing responsibilities and, thus, project success. Over-confidence in your own abilities is an open door to unethical behavior: excessive control, taking credit for others’ success, and so on.
According to Julian Birkinshaw, improving the behavior of managers is primarily the result of a long process of self-awareness and continuous analysis of your relationships with others.
Read our focus
Based on an interview with Julian Birkinshaw, and the article he co-authored with Jules Goddard, “What is Your Management Model?” MIT Sloan Management Review, winter 2009.
Business Digest nº 194, March 2009.