It’s hard to imagine recasting Jesus Christ or Attila the Hun as management consultants. Even putting the two together in a sentence jangles. However, that is what’s being done. There are a number of best selling management books about historical and recent heroes who embodied value based leadership including Lao Tzu, Sitting Bull, and Jesus.
Other books have focused on recent leaders, managers or investors as the metaphor for success, including Warren Buffet, the investor; Jack Welch of GE; and Lee Iacocca of Chrysler. For example, one of the books, the Genius of Sitting Bull draws parallels between Sitting Bull’s leadership abilities and contemporary management. The author compares the healthcare industry to the disparate, disorganized tribes that Sitting Bull united into a cohesive fighting and working unit. In much the same way, companies use leadership metaphors and examples of teams and individuals that succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations.
- Balance the benefits and risks of changing early and massively
- Don’t forget to factor in the risk of standing still
- Smart companies are the first to make their own products obsolete
- Leadership is no longer solely the role of bosses; anyone excited about change should start leading
- A creative workplace will reduce the number of change resisters
- Without trust, there is too much time and effort wasted. Honest companies are more efficient. It makes good business sense.
Shapiro, Robert, “Driving Change – Too Fast,” USA Today, August 11, 1999, p. 6B.
What’s the best leadership model? Or, is there even such a thing as a leadership model? Can it be the Marine Corps? Well, the Marine Corps is a well-respected mobile fighting unit that gets its mission done. And, some businesses are implementing its leadership model.
Part of the Marine Corps leadership model is the ‘rule-of-three.’ A person should limit his or her attention to three tasks or goals. It’s pretty simple. There are infinite possibilities in any situation, which can short circuit decision-making. The rule-of-three says cut down the options to three alternative courses of action. Otherwise, a marine or anyone becomes overextended and confused especially in stressful situations such as in a fire-fight. A corporal has a three-person fire team; a sergeant has a squad of three fire teams; a lieutenant has three squads; and so on. Since everyone is taught to be an effective decision-maker, authority is pushed to the lowest level.[i]
[i] Freedman, David, “Corps Values,” Inc. Magazine, April, 1998, pp. 54.63.
Some work pundits even suggest that traditional managers don’t add value, are too often redundant, and are organizational dinosaurs. Richard Koch and Ian Godden in Managing Without Management suggest that management as it exists today can’t be salvaged by the ‘flavor of the month’ fads and may disappear entirely early in this century.
Sounds far fetched, but read on! Work must still get done. Control systems must exist. So, who does these things? Entrepreneurs in large organizations according to the authors add value not managers. Six major forces are supposedly killing traditional management including: 1. power of customers; 2. spread of Information Technology; 3. shareholder’s assertion of their legitimacy and rights; 4. efficiencies caused by international competition; 5. drive for organizational simplicity; and 6. growth of powerful leaders.[i]
[i] Koch, Richard and Godden, Ian, Managing Without Management, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1997.
Time is collapsing. Distance has vanished. Change is accelerating.
Denver Technical College ad, Denver Rocky Mountain Post, September 19, 1999.
Can this economy last? Po Bronson, the chronicler of Silicon Valley and today’s techies, offered the following warning:
“Can the (Silicon) Valley’s high-tech pickup game keep growing forever? Isn’t there some natural limit where the degree of chaos caused by the churning of start-ups and failures exceeds the degree of order established by standardized protocols and it starts to tear itself down faster than it builds up? Doesn’t the fact that the business is running on vapor – without revenues, without offices, without physical products – mean that at a certain point it will lose its ability to float? Do the principles of economics work in space, beyond the reach of gravity? Is there any oxygen up there? One fad after another has been proven to be no more than that, but amazingly, everyone still has a job, plugging sixty-hour weeks into the next fad. Surely, surely, a crash is due. Not just a brisk correction that can be patched by repricing options but a real crash.”
Bronson, Po, The Nudist on the Late Shift, NY: Random House, p. xxx.
“With the life-cycle of products shrinking and competition coming from unexpected corners of the globe, companies have to be more nimble than ever. This uncertainty helps some workers: if a firm has no idea from which direction the next competitive threat will come, one of its few sensible strategies is to amass good people to prepare for as many contingencies as possible. But it also increases the pressure on companies to contract out their ‘non-core’ activities to (often smaller) specialized companies or to use more temporary workers than in the past (as four in five American firms now do).”[i]
[i] “The Future of Work: Career Evolution,” The Economist, January 29, 2000, p. 90.
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.
Neils Bohr, Nobel Physicist
New ideas … are not born in a conforming environment.
Roger von Oech, Writer