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The courage to end management as we know it

Jon and I have long put forward the idea that leadership and management are two different things. We’ve defined management as the action of organizing the details of day-to-day operations. But often the word organizing becomes controlling. Yet years of research in human and organizational behavior show that controlling won’t get organizations the results they want.

Daniel Pink has a new book coming out in a few weeks. Here’s an excerpt:

Management is great if you want people to comply – to do specific things a certain way. But it stinks if you want people to engage – to think big or give the world something it didn’t know it was missing. For creative, complex, conceptual challenges – i.e, what most of us now do for a living—40 years of research in behavioral science and human motivation says that self-direction works better.

And that requires autonomy. Lots of it.

If we want engagement, and the mediocrity busting results it produces, we have to make sure people have autonomy over the four most important aspects of their work:

Task – What they do
Time – When they do it
Technique – How they do it
Team – Whom they do it with.

After a decade of truly spectacular underachievement, what we need now is less management and more freedom – fewer individual automatons and more autonomous individuals.

 . . . something worth thinking about. The challenge is to have the courage to go beyond thinking to gathering the courage to make the shift to a new way of engaging individuals in the workplace. If you want more to think about today, check out Justin Anderson’s take on shifting organizational culture.

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