The square peg and the workplace

Here’s a recent find, the “You’re the Boss” blog in the New York Times (H/T Phil Stott at CNBC).  What drew me in was this tough-minded post on happy employees by Jay Goltz.  “A tough-minded post on happy employees”, you say?  Yes indeed, for as Goltz notes:

Have you ever seen a company or department paralyzed by someone who is unhappy and wants to take hostages? It is remarkable how much damage one person can do. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you watch “The Caine Mutiny.” Basically, one guy takes apart the ship. He was unhappy. It only takes one.

Basically, Goltz says you have to be prepared to fire the square peg who doesn’t fit, doesn’t want to fit, or wants everyone else to change to fit him.

I learned this lesson early on back in my McD’s days.  Let me tell you, when you’re the opening or closing manager you don’t want to run short-staffed.  So it is very tempting Continue reading

Management + Leadership = Ordered Liberty

As part of my blog reanimation, I popped over to Bas de Baar’s “Project Shrink” blog for a few ideas. Lo and behold, Bas had a brief post (w/ Crossderry link) and a video clip with his take on the difference between project management and project leadership.

Bas opposes “dependence vs. independence” to capture the difference between management and leadership. There is a great insight in that distinction, because it  brings the concept of entrepreneurship to the project world (where it is sorely lacking, IMO).  Al Gore’s policy entrepreneurship on the environment — notwithstanding the many issues I have with Gore’s substantive case — makes a great leadership contrast to Bas’s Ag Department bureaucrat.

As Bas closed the clip, he mentioned that “we need both [management and leadership]”.  This aside gets to the crux of the matter, IMO.  We need to have some combination of manager/leader.  

Bas’s policy-focused metaphors of bureaucrat vs. entrepreneur also brought to mind the concept of ordered liberty:  “freedom limited by the need for order in society. ”  That phrase neatly captures the paradox of  vision versus/and plan.

Balancing today’s and tomorrow’s business

Scott Anthony had a post on Bloomberg that summarizes what must have been a bang-up discussion on growth and innovation (post here).   He captures the balance we must strike between “winning the game” and “changing the game” well in his opening graf:

Take a deep breath, and repeat after me: “My [business model, product, business unit, brand, offering] has a finite life. I’m going to make that life as happy and productive as possible, but I also have to think about what’s next.” 

Perhaps this mantra can also help shed some light on the “manager vs. leader” question that so many seem interested in (it is my number one post and its here).  The manager is most interest in today’s “life” while the leader is focused on tomorrow’s.

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