"Frank's skill in asking the right questions is un-mistakable, and is at the core of his leadership philosophy.

The power of these questions cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to lead and not manage."
—John Cave
Westhaven Worldwide Logistics

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Step 1 - Define!

Step 1


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A Single Definition?

“What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Does it make any sense to classify managers into different categories? It would certainly make life easier—but the truth of course is that most managers are a mix of several classifications, several qualities. Some of these qualities are valuable and useful; many of those qualities complement each other and make for a strong leader. Other qualities are less desirable—or sometimes what should be a desirable quality gets misused. And to be honest, there are some qualities that can best be described as out of this world.

    Something else to keep in mind about classifications: definitions vary depending on the particular management culture, not to mention economic considerations. (The better the economy, the more effusive the definitions.)

Management and Management Functions

Which developments led in practice to the irreversible separating of management functions and to the development of an own management style?

    First, let’s start off by defining both terms:


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Because no individual can effectively lead a large-scale enterprise single-handedly, the duties and tasks of management get split into several sub-tasks. Those sub-tasks will then be planned and executed within clearly defined borders from (and for) several individuals. The result is a system determined to carry out individual, social, political, economical, environmental and ethical goals. That may sound lofty, but when you think about it, this really is the core of a successful, responsible, forward-thinking business. To reach these goals, the key resources have to be found, secured, procured, processed and used in the most effective way possible.

    Let’s take a look at a dictionary definition of management:

    “Management”—(from Latin manus agere “to lead by the hand”, guidance) characterizes either the group leading an organization or the associated activities and tasks to run an organization (planning, execution, control and adjustment of measures to ensure the well being of the organization).


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Management Functions

Traditional management theory tells us that the typical management functions are:
  1. Planning
  2. Organization
  3. Employment
  4. Guidance
  5. Controlling

    These functions are valid, and it’s useful to step back and explore where they originated.

    Going back in history, we can see the first stirrings of what we call management quite early. Such enormous projects as the building of the pyramids or the construction of the Roman aqueducts required workers of varying degrees of skills to supply the actual labor. That labor was overseen by people who ensured that productivity was high.

    The gains made in “management” in ancient Europe and Asia were countered by setbacks during the Middle Ages. There were no societies like the Roman or Egyptian empires to oversee the creation or completion of great undertakings. The economy was more centered on individual activity.

    Until relatively recently, in fact, production was primarily a local activity; craftspeople and artisans produced goods on a small scale. The individual owner/artisan completely controlled production—manufacturing, selling, repairing, and creating new products. Various aspects of the production process might be delegated, usually to family members. Artisans trained others to produce by taking on apprentices; often, apprenticeships were handed down from generation to generation in the same family. The artisan served as a sort of “guidance worker” to the apprentice.

Are there “guidance workers” in your company?

    Beginning in the late 18th century, when social, political, economic, and technological changes heralded the Industrial Revolution, the concept of management as we know it today started taking shape. The Industrial Revolution spurred on the now common practice of division of labor, thanks in part to the invention of machines that could do the most onerous and time-consuming tasks. As a result, workers became specialized, often in single, simple and easy-to-learn tasks. This increased the distance between the apprentice and the guidance worker. One negative side effect of this was that the individual worker lost the opportunity to be involved with the complete production process. This created the need for more experienced workers (often who had been given the more traditional apprenticeship training) to lead and oversee the production. A positive side effect of this arrangement was that production increased, sometimes dramatically. The combination of increased mechanization and increased capacity to produce meant that more raw materials were needed (never mind the new machines). The results? Manufacturers needed more capital. Because the volume of capital was so much larger, it became clear that people would be needed to manage the financial aspects of the business. Eventually, management became an essential component in planning, organization, and controlling.

    In many countries the bureaucracy had (and still has) a strong influence on the development of systematic management in developing large-scale enterprises. To their credit, bureaucracies can ease the expansion of the enterprises and also ensure the economic growth of the country. One could say that bureaucracies act as “owners” just as in traditional companies, and as such they need managers to keep things running efficiently.

    As the relationship between “owners” and “managers” emerged, forward-thinking owners realized that they needed to find managers. At first, they looked to the family for their leaders (many companies still do this to varying degrees), but it became increasingly clear that the best way to succeed was to hire the most competent people to do the job.


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To manage

  1. take responsibility
  2. lead, be in charge
  3. observe and direct
  4. supervise
  5. execute
  6. negotiate

Do you manage—by this definition?

There are three main classifications to better understand what a manager does:
1. Intrapersonal
        Representative    Supervisor    Connector 2
2. Informational
        Receiver    Sender    Speaker
3. Decision Maker
        Innovator    Peace Maker    Administrator
Managers shouldn’t think they need to be able to mold their personality to accommodate all of these traits or qualities. Smart managers, in fact, know that they can overcome their own weaknesses—sometimes by working on themselves, other times by delegating to people they trust. Managers, who think they’re perfect, or even close to perfect, can be dangerous.

Can you name your five biggest strengths?

Can you name your five biggest weaknesses?

2 Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Back Bay Books, 2002)


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