How Managers Exert Influence

I run hot and cold on Henry Mintzberg, but I was taken with his thoughts in a Monday interview (published in the most recent “MIT Sloan” special section of the WSJ, here). 

Mintzberg’s observations on influencing action — and the limits of that influence — are particularly acute. He outlines three “planes” of influence: through direct action, through other people, and through information.  This last approach comes in for some withering criticism.  Per the example below, it is apparent that Mintzberg believes managing through information is what often passes for leadership these days:

Today I think we have much too much managing through information—what I call “deeming.” People sit in their offices and think they’re very clever because they deem that you will increase sales by 10%, or out the door you go. Well, I can do that. My granddaughter could do that; she’s four.

He also touches on the “Manager vs. Leader” question I’ve posted on here. Work calls, however, so I’ll get to that in a later post.

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