Reflections of Workplace Perspective…..
Those who follow my writing know that I am in search of the key, the portal, the yellow brick road of managing people. There has been a great deal written about optimal management practices; and in spite of this affluence of solid reference material, there continue to be blatant and very public examples of managers who chose to rebuff accepted best practices, either out of ignorance or mulish indifference. Who are the victims of this folly? In every case, it is the employees; however during this global recession we are experiencing in our living rooms examples of large corporations embarrassed into humble submission; their senior managers, exposed at long last like the “Emperor’s Clothes” also being forced to relinquish their power, their status and their elite positions in a society that values wealth and power above all else.
Still, I am in search of the “perfect manager” or, if you wish, the baking powder of management. On this fine day, I intend to try a little “Milton Erickson” on you. Instead of the literal, the blatant, the direct and the conscious, I am going to try the not so obvious, starting with an article that seemingly has little to do with management.
If one is interested in the perfect manager, where would one go? Some might consider management gurus or management books. Others would consult with mentors in their organization. These sources have worked for many, but not for all. So where could we go? May I suggest that we consider the case of the perfect child? Charles Lewis, in his newspaper article entitled “The Perfect Child” (The National Post, Saturday, March 21, 2009), raises a couple of points that may be helpful in this regard.
First, he cites Michele Borba (How to Raise a Moral Child) who says, “A person who raises a moral kid does not do so by accident”. We know from the research that children are hard-wired for morality; however, we also know that effort is required, in particular from parents to ensure that a positive charge is connected to this wiring system. A failure from parents to repetitively teach and reinforce these values will produce children and ultimately adults who are morally bankrupt.
Similarly, an organization that develops an ethical manager does not do so by accident. It takes a conscious effort to identify the kinds of attributes you require in your managers and then use various mechanisms to teach and reinforce these characteristics.
A second interesting point relates to the work of Alan Jacobs (Original Sin: A Social History). He says, “Modelling your beliefs for your children is a huge piece of the puzzle”. In essence it is not enough to talk the talk, but you must also walk the walk; unless you invest in your own moral development and model this behaviour for your children, you teaching efforts are wasted. Your children will simply behave the way you are behaving.
What is it about the perfect child that has relevance for the creation of the perfect manager?
- First, this process is no accident. The effort to create the perfect child is derived from the parents innate need to nurture; the parent has a passion for their own child and as a result is committed to this as a process of life. Similarly,as a senior manager that craves a powerful management environment, I have a passion for nurturing the best managers possible.
- Second, there must be a plan. In terms of moral development, the parent must be clear on what morals should be taught and how they should be manifested. Organizations must establish what is critical for the development of strong managers and articulate this in a plan.
- Third, the child will learn more from what they see as opposed to what they are taught. The parent must be a model of moral behaviour and understand why these behaviours are important. I must also invest in my own development as a manager so I naturally behave in a manner consistent with the behaviour I am nurturing in my managers.
The perfect child helps us to understand the motivation, the perspective and the standard that would lead to the development of “perfect managers”. Is your organization committeed to the development of incredible managers?