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How to lead, manage and follow.

Big money is lost or wasted working on the effects of a problem. It is the attempt to clear up the stink of the river down stream from where the city discharges its waste into the stream; the process is politically acceptable but practically worthless. It is the same with programs espoused by weak consultants currying favor with poor managers.

Most operational and management audits or studies capture the essence of perceived problems. Too often the essence of a problem is the effect and not the cause. The issue is generally stated as you have too little of this or too much of that or the right people are doing the wrong thing or the wrong people are attempting to do the right thing. You may also hear these concepts or products have become obsolete by time or the competitor's sales people. The cause of the problem is not mentioned. Effort and big dollars are wasted on the effects to avoid the cause.

It is rare when the cause of the undesirable results is addressed. This is almost always true when the cause is ineffective management. The issue of management proficiency is too difficult or risky to address. Pay day is the day before integrity for many.

Most, if not all, managers and employees in general do the very best they know how. If they knew of a better or easier method would they not employ it? If they know of no better way of managing, will they not be critical of the suggestion they are not managing well? One cannot suggest weak management (methods/procedures/people) is the cause of poor performance when there are other issues in evidence. Few executives wish to learn their organization has a serious disease. Many are inclined to kill the messenger.

The management styles, methods and procedures, and the self and group disciplines of an organization are the result of what the founder or senior executive found to work for them. Those who survived found how to manage. They know of no other way.

The very important issue of how to manage is rarely addressed in the tomes on management or in company manuals, for few authors on management philosophy or dogma have had the opportunity to successfully manage anything. Little attention is paid to the disciplines necessary for effective and efficient leadership and management. The focus is on form, not substance.

The elementary essential thinking disciplines of managing are rarely discussed. The need for meaningful purpose, definitive goals and work plans with visible steps and the rewards for attainment are occasionally seen. How to develop the essentials seems to be avoided. Yet poor management is seen as the number one reason for business failure. Is it not time to bring focus to the cause of both failure and success?

The most effective and, to a limited extent, most efficient management process is a strongly motivated individual with a high energy level and above average intelligence providing direct supervision. The supervised group may be as small as two or as large as 20 or more. The output or value generated per employee of such a group is rarely if ever matched. Working with such a leader is an exciting and rewarding experience.

This directive management method begins to become less effective as growth limits the time the boss can be on site. Also note that usually this manager's ego hinders the development of strong effective subordinates. The more successful this individual has been, the less likely it is for them to modify or change their ways as growth decreases their effectiveness.

The challenge is to employ concepts that utilize the potentials of both the intellectual and the physical energies of the individual members of the organization.

Only the producers of the very best results appear to use management techniques that employ both of those potentials. What unifies and focuses these energies? What individual and group disciplines are necessary to bring focus? What is needed to maintain meaningful purpose and direction for each member organization?

What techniques should be employed to formulate workable plans for the achievement of purpose? How might you discern whether or not the desired or necessary rate of progress is occurring?

It is fairly easy to recognize a good manager as they seem to have good people producing above average results. It is just as easy to spot a good leader as they seem to have good managers working with them. The issue is how to become a good leader.

In the meantime, the very process of asking questions seems to beget answers, for both the questioner and those questioned, answers as to what should be done and how it should be done better. Such questions create understanding and confidence for all. Question stimulate thinking and they let ideas bloom.

How much could be achieved if you and your people, superior or subordinate, could rely on the promise to deliver? Could it be great management teams are built on basic honesty, doing what they said they would do? Did you ask? Can you really afford to presume there is no need to ask?

M.E. Gene Youngreen, P.E., is president of Zetetek Management Services Corp., Rocklin, Calif. Youngreen has been a consulting management engineer for more than 30 years, with extensive experience in the design and implementation of management and financial plans. He has a B.A. in accounting and economics from Humboldt State College and has done postgraduate study in law, health service systems, engineering and management. He is a member of IIE.
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Title Annotation:Leadership Skills; effective management
Author:Youngreen, M.E. Gene
Publication:Industrial Management
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Previous Article:Manufacturing discipline: improving productivity with low capital investment.
Next Article:Work modeling techniques to bridge "management gap" in team-based organizations.

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