Evolution from management to leadership?

25 11 2008

In his bog “Leadership is not rocket science” Ravi Tangri compares accepted understanding of how the universe works (oh yes!) and the five parallels he sees between this and his understanding of how people work in organizations. He then expands these to suggest the philosphical and intellectual advancement from management to leadership practice as “a quantum leap in consciousness” and “a key stage of human evolution”.

human evolution?

human evolution?

I wonder slightly at this commonly expressed idea that leaders are a step up the evolutionary ladder from managers as, you heard it here first, I don’t actually feel that managers are as un-evolved as they are occasionally referred to as. What is clear however is that there has to be a movement from the more old fashioned concepts of management towards a more holistic style of leadership.

Summarising his comments on the five parallels I believe as leaders, rather than managers, we must:

  • accept that whilst some things are “knowable” and measurable in terms of action and reaction but that what is actually required is a leader to help navigate the uncertainties of the future.
  • recognise that the mechanistic approach to managing has value but we must also consider that organisations also have a living, changing and active “soul”. Ignoring this is costly.
  • understand that reducing everything to quantifiable and measurable units removes also the holistic value of an organisation that, particularly in medicine, is quintessential.
  • acknowledge that the world, however large our view of this, is not totally controllable and that organisations given a degree of self determination might flourish with this freedom from rigid control.
  • know what we are managing are not chess pieces to be moved and even sacrificed as appropriate but living, thinking, feeling colleagues with whom we can make a worthwhile and valuable future.

From a personal perspective such comments dishearten me as I realise this describes my experience of so few of the managers in my past but also enthuses me as I aspire to such goals. Trite perhaps, but more in keeping with a personal world view that I currently hold than a mechanistic view offered by some of the management tomes I have been reading.

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