My last few posts have focused a bit more on culture and leadership (or lack thereof); in today’s post, I’ll continue the trend with a focus on management sins. I found three separate items that I wanted to share with you, all quite interesting, some with overlap.
The first is a whitepaper I recently came across titled 7 Deadly Sins of Management™. It comes from the Management and Leadership Network (MLN) and the Center for Competitiveness (CforC). They conducted research among executives in Northern Ireland to determine if there was a common understanding or thread as to why businesses in the region fail. Apparently, there is a “management and leadership deficit”in the UK. According to their research, the following leadership behaviors cause a business to under-perform or to fail.
- Lack of vision (No desired future state identified to be working towards)
- Lack of focus (Lack of focus on the areas of the business which add most value)
- Inappropriate role model (not leading by example – actions not matching words, not open to learning, not taking ownership)
- Not close enough to the business (lack of understanding of markets, customers, staff or product evolution)
- Lack of accountability or discipline (no action for non-performance, chaotic/fire-fighting environment, too fluid)
- Lack of constancy of purpose (Not staying the course because of the distractions or opportunities which causes the “eye to be taken off the ball”)
- Too much focus on the numbers (short-termism, lack of patience, mechanistic environment, blame culture)
Without a doubt, these behaviors are 110% detrimental to any business. When there’s no clarity for employees, when they see leaders fumble around trying to figure out next steps, and when they feel like leaders don’t understand the business itself and what they’re supposed to be doing, employees begin to question whether they want to continue to work for these folks. And worse, employees decide to leave.
The next item I found was Dr. W. Edwards Deming seven deadly diseases of western management, which he notes are:
- Lack of constancy of purpose
- Emphasis on short-term profits
- Annual rating of performance: “it is purely a lottery”
- Mobility of management (i.e., job hopping)
- Use of visible figures only, with little or no consideration of figures that are unknown or unknowable
- Excessive medical costs
- Excessive legal damage awards swelled by lawyers working on contingency fees
For any business to be transformed, for businesses to survey, clearly these diseases need to be cured. The first five are his original “diseases,” and he added the other two later.
And finally, the third item is a book by Dr. John Collis, The Seven Fatal Management Sins | Understanding and Avoiding Managerial Malpractice, in which he calls out and defines the following sins:
- The character flaw: erosion of trust and integrity
- Blind ambition: focus more on managing your career than managing the organization
- Short-term scare mentality: managing for survival
- Indecisiveness: unclear on when and who decides
- Blurred focus: the fuzzy vision
- Employees perceived as an expense, not as an investment
- Managing unchecked: lack of real accountability
Pundits actually ponder if people really leave managers, not companies. With traits like those listed, why would an employee want to stay. An interesting observation is that none of these three really put a heavy focus on employee development; each one stated only one sin that pertained to the employee, although, ultimately, they all impact employees,
From these lists, some of the deal-breaker behaviors for me – ones that I’ve witnessed fairly consistently over the years, unfortunately – include:
- Lack of vision
- Lack of focus/constancy of purpose
- No real accountability
- Too much focus on the numbers
- Not leading by example
- Lack of trust and integrity
- Managing for survival
Based on your experience, what else would you add to the sins outlined by the three sources I’ve noted? What sins have you seen your managers or leadership team commit? What are your deal breakers?
So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work. -Peter Drucker
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