Is New Zealand over-managed yet under-led?

When debating the difference between leading and managing, most say:
Leading has to do with people, big picture, purpose, strategy, vision, change, inspiration and Tomorrow

Managing is reductionist in nature – controls and systems (measurement and feedback), consistently delivering to spec and meeting budgets – it’s about Today, even Yesterday.

If staff understand the business and know:

  • how to contribute
  • how to measure their impact
  • where to get feedback
  • whose feedback counts
  • how to change the inputs to get different outputs
  • the rules of engagement
  • risks, expenses and how waste occurs…

then, do they need managing? No. But give people a manager and guess what? They need managing.

Work needs managing, not people. People manage themselves and their work if that’s the expectation environment and they have the tools.

Some time ago, Peter Drucker said most of what we call management stops people doing their jobs. During the 90s, the buzzword was empowerment. During the 2000s, it was engagement. But these are just words. Business wants the results of engagement but will not pay the price. The price is:

  • the time to inform, educate and involve
  • the fundamental belief that people are pretty smart and have their hearts in the right place.

Without these, you can’t take full advantage of human brilliance. All too often, judgements are made about people from within a system of vertical control that works against teamwork, commitment and self-management.

People are born with two possible approaches to life: Internally or Externally-driven. The internally-driven (internal locus of control) is the independent self-starter who assesses what a situation needs and just does it, managing risk and finding that extra spurt of drive to complete the job so people’s needs are met. This is in contrast to the person who has to be told, checked up on, cajoled, molly- coddled and all manner of interventions to keep working. Put people into the social setting that requires internal drive and course correction, and individuals act accordingly. To get this payback, you need to invest your positive belief in people and time to inform, educate and involve…..

You get there with your expectations and behaviours:

  • What you expect of people
  • How you interact with them
  • What you agree with them
  • How you educate and mentor
  • The approach you role model
  • The questions you ask

If you expect people to show leadership, all other things being equal, they do.

Over-managed is where you:

  • Treat people as objects – divide and rule
  • Take them for granted
  • Talk down to them
  • Disregard their brilliance
  • Squeeze them into artificial organisation structures (jobs)
  • Check up, chase up, pounce on, keep in the dark
  • Impose nonsensical change
  • Say ‘it’s on a need-to-know basis’
  • Isolate and confuse

You reach potential when:

  • managers and staff are partners in success
  • they share information and discover together what to change to get better results
  • leadership comes from anywhere – whoever sees something that needs doing, does it
  • people know the goal lines, sidelines and rules of the game
  • they understand risk, costs and mitigation
  • they work to continuously improve, measure their work and account to each other for time, talent and contribution to collective success.

This is the default human being at work. “Not a normal person with something added but a normal person with nothing taken away.” (Charles Garfield)

This is where leadership is an action not a title. It’s to do with impact not status. Where New Zealand gets this right, everyone wins.


About Cherri Holland

Fascinated with business, brains and how to use the brains on the payroll to make business buzz.
This entry was posted in Managing for business success. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Over-managed;under-led

  1. John Keesing says:

    Brilliant Cherri

    NZ style of management is one of my pet peeve’s .

    You have hit the nail on the head.




    John Keesing Consulting Associate

    Mobile: (021) 649-920


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