On November 15th and 16th, I conducted a seminar with productivity consultant Jerome Jewell called The Leadership Quadrant: 4 Ps for Organizational Excellence. The 4 Ps are Principles, People, Productivity, and Process. It was held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and we incorporated the museum’s rousing multi-media show, Freedom Rising, into the seminar.
The seminar participants came from the healthcare, criminal intelligence, and manufacturing sectors, which led to some fascinating discussion and dynamics. With any seminar, the value to all in attendance is magnified by the contributions of the participants, and this was no exception.
In the seminar, which included sections on principles, emotional intelligence, systemic thinking, talent management, innovation, project management, and more, the collective group highlighted a number of “grey areas” that a manager must frequently weigh when making decisions.
Some questions arose, such as:
"What if someone no longer likes a role they excel at and prefers a role they're poor at?"
"Do people always need to see the big picture?"
"Should one person be expected to serve the role of a manager, leader, and administrator? A strategist and tactician? A generalist?"
"How do you strike a balance between effective time management and remaining available to your staff?"
"Are recurring meetings effective or are they time wasters?"
In line with these questions, below are some of the factors that managers must consider:
- People’s individual needs vs. organizational goals
- Big picture inclusiveness vs. security (or the desire to give people narrow focus)
- Using generalists vs. specialists (and where the specialty should focus – on a functional area or on a particular skill)
- Effective time management vs. flexibility and being available to your staff’s needs
- Recurring meetings vs. consideration for people’s time
- Informing vs. influencing (for deciding whether to email or meet; even then, the decision is not always straightforward)
- Innovation vs. execution (knowing when to move from ideation to “getting things done”)
- Systemic (whole view) thinking vs. systematic thinking (routine, repeatable process)
- Vigilance vs. delegation (how much is safe to delegate, and to whom?)
- Firm principles vs. ethical dilemmas (should a firm principle ever be bypassed?)
In all of these cases, the group determined that the answer isn’t always black and white, and that each situation requires weighing these items. The trick is to observe, orient, decide and act quickly (referencing Colonel John Boyd’s OODA principle).
On the item of firm principles vs. ethical dilemmas, the group applied lessons from various cases throughout history where the US Constitution was challenged. It was obvious that there was no “one size fits all” answer.
With more recent events, consider OJ Simpson’s book. If you manage a bookstore with a principle of defending freedom of speech, do you carry O.J. Simpson’s new book, even though it is "ethically challenged," to say the least? Most large-chain bookstores creatively tried to satisfy both sides of the equation by donating all of the proceeds to the victims’ families. Of course, in the end, the book was canceled, but for a while, this was a real challenge to bookstores.
All of this reaffirms that management is abstract, not concrete. Managers cannot have all the answers; but they can and must insure that the right questions are considered, and they must have the courage to make decisions.
Labels: balance, course, decisions, innovation, it-project, leadership, people, principles, project-manager, security, talent-management, value, value-management