In their modern management classic, First, Break All the Rules (1999), contrarians Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (of The Gallup Organization) openly criticize conventional management thinking.
And rightly so.
Amongst the management maxims they dismiss:
- Hiring for talent – This alone doesn’t work. Talented people still need a great manager if they’re to reach their full potential (p. 11)
- Pay as a motivator – Pay isn’t as strong a motivator as most people think. Once their basic needs have been met, employees look to be “compensated” in other, non-monetary ways. This includes being managed well (p. 26)
- Focusing on weakness – People don’t change much. You’re better off capitalizing on their strengths, as opposed to eliminating any weaknesses, or improving on those things with which they already struggle (p. 57)
- Managing underperformers – Spend most of your time with your best employees, not your worst (p. 153)
- Leadership – Although important, leading has very little to do with being a great manager, or getting the best from people (p. 63)
All great insights, to be sure. But perhaps most importantly:
“As a manager, you might think that you have more control, but you don’t. You actually have less control than the people who report to you” (p. 109).
Managers should not see themselves as “the boss,” in other words. Or, as I’m in the habit of saying:
Managers are more effective—and their organizations are more profitable—when they behave as if their employees are in charge of them, not the other way around.