When it comes to managing, basically there are three kinds of people:
(1) Those who think that “good management,” and its practice, is already well-understood.
There are those within the business community, and the workforce at large, who seem to believe that good management has already been “defined,” so to speak. In other words, they believe that what it takes to be a good manager, and how to go about becoming one, is a known quantity. This would explain why most of us recognize “good management” when we see or experience it. Unfortunately, the corollary to this line of thinking seems to be that managing well is also just not that easy to do – which would account for why good managers seem so hard to find. How to manage, in other words, is relatively well-understood according to this rationale. It’s just not an organizational role that everyone is necessarily capable of, or cut out for.
Most people are of this first type.
(2) Those who think “good management” defies definition, and may not be something we can ever truly understand.
This second type of person seems willing to concede that it may not be possible to define good management in any sort of meaningful way. Managing well, according to these people, is akin to an “art” or a “gift”; either you have it, or you don’t. This way of thinking would account for the apparent dearth of good managers in today’s workplaces, as well as why managing seems so hard to do. Furthermore, it would also explain why some believe that the best way to assess for managerial aptitude is to simply thrust a person into the role, and see what happens.
Most everyone else is of this second type.
(3) And then there is me.
Here’s what I believe: It’s not that “good management” can’t be defined in some meaningful way, or otherwise defies description. But nor has such an understanding already been achieved.
Instead, I’m convinced that the one thing we do think we know about good management—indeed, the one thing most people are absolutely sure of when it comes to managing—is wrong.