Defining Management

Management is formalized power over another person’s actions, typically in an employment capacity.

  • All great organizations need great workers, who are empowered by great managers.
  • Great leaders bring in great workers and, later, other great managers who then find other great workers, to create a corporate culture.

Like success and investing, there’s a lot of bad management advice:

  • Even when it doesn’t pay well compared to their subordinates, many people wish to be managers because they desire job security without much work or crave power over others.
  • A manager who appears to be competent or powerful to their boss is technically easier than actual competence or power.
  • The formal culture of most managerial roles mean managers don’t receive direct correction by their subordinates (or those people are quickly replaced).
  • Most people who succeed at management, but desire more wealth, move on from managing.

The Image of Management

Our religious tendencies mean we tend to draw behind the image of a leader, and that leader tends to become a symbolic depiction of the group’s values.

  • It takes an entire group of people to do anything significant, but someone always ends up maintaining the group’s culture, and they eventually become the “face” of the organization.
  • Even inventions and social trends advanced by 1 person create an informally-managed group once a few dozen fans start engaging with it.

Management reproduces the role of high-quality fatherhood we inherit from our upbringing, but tends to have a more limited scope of love and human connection:

  • Aptitude (or at least competence) in the group’s specialization.
  • Behavior that appears decisive.
  • Distant enough with subordinates to stay relatively unbiased, but close enough to provide emotional/moral support.

Actual management, however, includes a few extra details the image fails to portray:

  1. Management is more about leadership than negotiation. Conflicts are a common-enough issue with people, but most power struggles can be avoided by strong, decisive leaders that give clear and practical examples of what to do.
  2. Most management includes lots of organization, along with lots of communication that inspires others to add to that organized state themselves.
  3. Managers are forced to take responsibility for difficult decisions. Most of them are choices between an awful thing and something worse.

Management has also gotten a bad reputation for several reasons:

  1. Similarly to entrepreneurship, most management books are written by lucky people whose techniques may or may not be worth reproducing.
  2. The power that comes from managerial authority draws many people who desire nothing more than that power.
  3. we often can learn from others’ failures more than mistakes, but books about failed management are rarely top sellers.


Anyone can be a manager if they’re granted the role, but successful management directs people toward a purpose and and helps them accomplish it.

  • The specialization to manage is uniquely different than most other specializations because it requires conveying meaning to other people.
  • There are many roles that encompass this concept: official managers, administrators, executives, pastors, overseers, and politicians, among others.
  • Most of the time, they’ll gravitate to informal leadership roles automatically:
    • Assisting in running a church or social club.
    • High-quality parenting.
    • Consistently active on social media.

Almost everyone is capable of being a manager, but not everyone has the personality that they’d enjoy it:

  • They must accept the inevitable changes that come with groups of people along with results that aren’t in their direct control, but not so far that they’d alienate the more slow-changing members of the group they’re leading, so they need an in-the-middle Openness to Experience.
  • They will have to follow many rules and honor more commitments than most other roles, so they must have at least above-average Conscientiousness.
  • Most of them must have at least a few important conversations and/or public speeches every day, but also have to organize and track projects, so they need in-the-middle Extraversion, but probably skews higher.
  • They must win friends over and resolve conflicts, but will also need to confront conflicts as they happen, meaning they need average to above-average Agreeableness.
  • They absolutely must build and maintain others’ trust as being reliable, so they need low enough Neuroticism to never lose control of their feelings.
  • The specific and intense demands of higher-level managerial roles often mean Cluster B and ASD roles are frequent compared to many other domains.

To that end, managers tend to fall into several classes of people:

  1. People who prioritize their subordinates and make an amazing work environment.
    • The best environment to work in and grow as an employee.
    • If their superiors are only using performance metrics, they will not advance them farther compared to other managerial candidates.
  2. People who prioritize their superiors and make a harsh work environment.
    • Worker turnover is often higher, for a wide variety of reasons.
    • If their superiors only use performance metrics, they’ll likely advance them further up the management ladder.
  3. People who were great at other non-management specializations, but the Peter Principle caught up with them once they were promoted to manager.
    • They tend to have no idea what they’re doing.
    • Extreme competence in a non-management capacity does not guarantee competence in management.
    • Typically, they’ll either stay as a manager and lose the skills they had sharpened to get to that position, or downgrade themselves back to being a worker in another role.
    • Sometimes a manager is simply the wrong personality for the role.
      • Some roles require more organization, and others require more people.
      • The only way to distinguish between a bad or misplaced manager is through observing their performance in several different management roles.

Leading > Managing

All managers should have leadership qualities because managers must perform specific results:

While management itself is a role, leadership is a mindset and skillset:

Decent management is always coaching.

  • While “human resources” implies people are supplies, they all have individual lives and personalities.
  • Mentorship and leadership guide members to be better people overall, which is a long-term investment of both showing by example and consistently serving others.
  • Good coaching comes through complete trust and honesty, which requires at least adequate interpersonal skills.

Managers are granted roles from someone in a position of authority who liked them, but leaders express their competence before they ever become managers:

The primary distinguishing features between a leader/manager and a manager-in-title-only comes through:

  1. How they make difficult decisions.
  2. How they own those decisions when they make a mistake.

Bad Managers

Many managers only have a formal title that imply specific responsibilities to direct projects and communicate results.

  • Instead of directing meaning, bad managers often simply state purposes and give incentives (e.g., money, disciplinary action).
  • Middle managers, in particular, can often be terrible at leadership.

The stereotype of bad managers distill to a few key details:

  • Not particularly competent as an individual, but no self-awareness of that fact.
  • Accepts personal mediocrity about self-directed tasks and goals, which leads to some amount of hypocrisy.
  • Either poor interpersonal or communication skills, or insufficient energy/enthusiasm to motivate others.
  • Poorly understood or articulated vision or direction, or in the worst-case contradicting priorities.
  • Unwilling to hear constructive input from subordinates or peers, especially about matters which may imply change (and therefore more work).
  • Refusing to learn from mistakes and failures which may require change if fully understood.
  • Disinterest in helping others grow, improve, or succeed unless they’re receiving some of the credit.

Most larger group managers are not leaders:

  • Great manager-makers need to detect leadership aptitude in others, but not feel threatened by it.
  • Most worker promotions to manager are either from the manager observing competence in a non-management role, or a manager’s personal preference.
  • so promoting someone (even badly) gives political opportunities:
  • Business schools tend to churn out technical idiots with MBAs with zero people skills who negotiate lower employee pay.
    • Management culture often even instills outright contempt for subordinates.

Because nobody is leading by asking questions, non-leader management culture naturally builds very unique, very silly patterns of manager behavior, of which they’re often dismally unaware:

  • Dense, meaningless jargon which shows both a lack of understanding and unwillingness to own that lack of understanding.
  • Using the passive voice and vague clarifications to avoid making a verbal commitment or expressing certainty (“For some time…”, “Approximately…” “It was agreed…”).
  • Endless meetings and email conversations to communicate status on projects, but without legitimately assisting to make results within those projects.
  • Sometimes projecting family-based roles onto the subordinates, then reversing direction and behaving impersonally under the pretense of professionalism when the situation changes.

Great management can’t be trained because the managers must choose to be authentic and behave maturely.

  • Identifying with members’ feelings and character defects requires vulnerability about personal weaknesses.
  • Resolving conflicts in a healthy way requires understanding everyone’s interests.

Specific Manager Roles

A manager has a few possible ways to interpret their role:

  1. Fixer – the team is fulfilling various purposes, and the manager can step in to intervene if anyone needs guidance or anything goes wrong.
  2. Messenger – the manager has requirements based on rules, and the subordinate should be rewarded/punished for passing/failure.
  3. Team – in both good and bad ways, the leader is responsible for what the group does, and is equally responsible to make the members responsible as well.

No single management style works for all situations, for several reasons:

  1. Each manager’s personality is uniquely different, and they’re often held solely responsible for the decisions they’ve made.
  2. Each individual person contributes to the collective essence of each group, and each member’s personality often has particular needs or special attention to specific things.
  3. Even among similar domains, every group’s purpose is at least a little bit different (e.g., accounting department in a retail corporation vs. a construction corporation), and this compounds the idiosyncrasies from #1 and #2.

The purposes of the team determine what attributes the manager must have:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Able to influence others to their point of view
  • Self-aware and self-disciplined with their feelings and reactions
  • Adapts to change and inspires others to it as well
  • Appears fearless in the face of hardship
  • Creates rules
  • Follows rules
  • Takes responsibility for a team

Most management roles clarify the contrast between prioritizing relationships versus tasks, but every manager must love their work.

  • Happy leaders make generally happier members, who will mirror the behavior with more enthusiasm, confidence, and productivity as well.
Action-Centered Leadership:

Clarifies how a leader is useful relative to getting things done.

Separate out and list a Leader, their Tasks, the Teams, and Individuals.

  1. Leaders only exist for a Task.
  2. The quality of a Leader comes from how well they understand how to do the Task.
  3. The Team is a group devoted to performing the Tasks.
  4. Each Individual has various desires, fears, motivations, and experiences.
  5. A Leader’s job is to encourage the Team to do the Tasks.
  6. The Leader will have to modify how they encourage the Individual based on that person’s context from D.

Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid:

Defines whether a leader is helping people or results more.

Analyze a manager into 2 spectra:

  • People-Concerned – prioritizes group members’ benefits, what they enjoy the most, and the best interests for their careers.
  • Production-Concerned – prioritizes getting the job done as effectively as possible and the organization’s best interests.

These management styles can fit onto a graph:

  • Impoverished – doesn’t help either people and production.
  • Country Club – the workers like it, but it doesn’t create results.
  • Produce or Perish – gets the job done, but uses and burns out workers.
  • Team Leadership – fully provides for people and production, which is physically impossible and tends to lean into Country Club or Produce or Perish.
  • Middle of the Road – half-concerned for people, half-concerned for results.

Dunham & Pierce’s Leadership Process Model:

Generally addresses how each element that associates with leadership is vastly interconnected.

Demarcate several significant factors:

  • A Leader is anyone in charge of a project or people, no matter what their title is.
  • Followers are people led by the Leader who create most of the results.
  • Context includes various conditions for the Leader to manage the team including the project length and what the manager is able to do.
  • Outcomes are the consequences from the project success or failure.

All the leadership aspects interconnect in a circular (not linear) relationship, using other elements:

  • Relationships grow between the Leader and Followers.
  • People tend to use their natural skills and tend to ignore assigned responsibilities outside those skills.
  • Feedback from the Followers is critical for the Leaders.
  • Everything only stays in harmony with ethical, honest behavior from everyone.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model:

Observes on a relationship/task spectrum how various leadership styles and approaches can affect someone.

Have a leader describe their feelings to their least-liked coworker on a scale of 1 to 8:

  • Unfriendly to Friendly
  • Unpleasant to Pleasant
  • Rejecting to Accepting
  • Tense to Relaxed
  • Cold to Warm
  • Boring to Interesting
  • Backbiting to Loyal
  • Uncooperative to Cooperative
  • Hostile to Supportive
  • Guarded to Open
  • Insincere to Sincere
  • Unkind to Kind
  • Inconsiderate to Considerate
  • Untrustworthy to Trustworthy
  • Gloomy to Cheerful
  • Quarrelsome to Harmonious

The score (up to 128) determines how people-oriented the leader is, with task-oriented being the alternative.

  • Task-oriented managers tend to see less-liked coworkers poorly, and are great in situations requiring tasks or organizing a group but terrible at relationship-building and managing conflicts.
  • People-oriented managers tend to see less-liked coworkers more positively, and are great at avoiding/managing conflicts and making complex decisions.

Next, measure 3 factors to determine what the situation is:

  • Leader-Member Relations – how much trust and confidence the Members have in the Leader
  • Task Structure – how clear the tasks are
  • Leader’s Position Power – the amount of power the leader has to direct the Members

Generally, if the leader is liked, the tasks are clear, and the leader has lots of power, then task-oriented managers are best, and people-oriented managers are better as things become less favorable.

Hersey-Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Theory:

Categorizes management styles based on relationship versus task focus, but considers the manager’s past experience in managing.

Telling Style (low relationship, high task)

  • The most direct form of leadership: the leader tells them what to do and how they want it done.
  • The leader and team members work very little together.
  • Works best with Maturity Level 1 (M1) workers: least experienced and needs a leader to tell them how to do almost everything, could be from low-knowledge or subservient background.

Selling Style (high relationship, high task)

  • More chances of working together on something than simply telling people what to do.
  • The leader speaks more often with team members and convinces them to follow specific methods.
  • Works best with Maturity Level 2 (M2): slightly more knowledge and skill than M1s, more willingness to do tasks even when they need assistance.

Participant Style (high relationship, low task)

  • The leader builds relationships with team members, who are performing their own tasks independently.
  • Often, the leader’s tasks will blend in with members’ tasks, and the leader might even give some decisions to members.
  • Works best with Maturity Level 3 (M3): excited to work on the job, has most of the skills to perform it, can do most of the work alone.

Delegating Style (low relationship, low task)

  • The leader passes on most responsibilities for a project or task to team members.
  • Leaders with experienced teams will rarely need to direct or interact with members.
  • Works best with Maturity Level 4 (M4): fully able and willing to do the tasks without a leader.

Lewin’s Leadership Styles Framework:

Less heavily categorized than most, but defines how leaders can respond to contextual situations.

Each person has a context-dependent balance of 3 distinctive leadership styles:

  1. Authoritarian Leadership – takes command and doesn’t pass on any decision-making responsibility.
  2. Participative Leadership – works as part of a team and expects group input.
  3. Delegative Leadership – hands off responsibilities entirely to team members and trusts them completely.

Path-Goal Theory:

Defines leadership as a means of attaining a goal through the leader’s vision for a path.

All goals have a pathway, and a leader’s job is to guide everyone down that path:

  1. Clear the path by helping team members see the goal (or clear mid-points if the end isn’t in sight).
  2. Step in to correct inevitable obstructions which arise on the path.
  3. Visualize and remove future obstacles to the project.
  4. Offer rewards to keep team members motivated and happy as they go.

In this view, each leader has a mix of 4 different styles:

  1. Supporting – builds relationships and shows individual interest with each member.
  2. Directing – gives assignments and objectives.
  3. Participative – motivates team members by treating them as equals in authority.
  4. Achievement-Oriented – offers incentives and rewards to make members feel recognized and accomplished.

Tannenbaum-Schmidt Leadership Continuum:

Divides along a spectrum between Manager-Oriented leadership (like a dictator) and Team-Oriented Leadership (driven by members’ involvement and ideas).

  1. Tells – gives direct instructions with limited interaction, usually with a distrusting attitude.
  2. Sells – still directly commands, but the leader listens to members’ input.
  3. Suggests – a softer approach than selling that requests the team’s input about decisions.
  4. Consults – trusts team members to ask their advice, gives legitimate power to members.
  5. Joins – the leader is more a member than a dictator, keeps control over choices but makes decisions alongside the team.
  6. Delegates – implicitly believes in the team and expects them to perform.
  7. Abdicates – leader lets the team run itself from start to finish and is completely uninvolved.

Next: Creating Projects