What makes a great management team?
Cohesive teams commit to achieving ambitious goals together. Team members trust each other, hold each other accountable, and have the ability to engage in constructive conflict. Competence and character are necessary ingredients for cohesive teams. Yet on their own, they are not enough. Becoming a high-performance, cohesive team requires conscious effort and continuous practice.
Cohesive teams can be developed.
Management has an enormous influence on people's lives. Character, therefore, is a decisive qualification for managers. People of character love the truth and seek to do what's right. They serve a cause higher than themselves. They don't crack under pressure or compromise their values for personal gain. That's why people trust them and love to work with them.
Character is a matter of selection.
Management is probably the most important social function in the world. It deserves the utmost professionalism. Competent managers integrate management, leadership, and functional business skills for a holistic, systemic view of work and organizations. They are able to work in the system as well as on the system. This ability comes from sound, evidence-based knowledge, and practical application.
Competence can be developed.
Management development is often ineffective because it focuses on the wrong content and uses the wrong methods
Huge investments with questionable results
Companies spend tens of billions of dollars ever year on management development. Through in-house programs, business schools and coaching. To what avail?
For the most part, these investments don’t lead to better organisational performance. And companies still struggle with the depth of their leadership bench.
Senior executives continue to say their organisations aren’t very effective in developing future leaders.
Programs mostly focus on technical business knowledge and personal competencies. Both are valuable, but they are not management.
Management is a social technology. It is the technology of human accomplishment. Its core task is building and running organisations that work. Organisations that are fit for human beings and fit for our 21st century challenges.
Analytical business skills (strategy, finance, marketing and so on), personal competencies (eg, giving feedback, communicating clearly), however useful, are not enough.
Management development tends to happen in the abstract - separated from the actual work managers are engaged with at any given moment in time.
It’s too much focused on analytical skills and is often content with disseminating knowledge. And this typically happens within specialist silos, ignoring the messy complexity of managerial practice.
Finally it ignores the systems perspective. It sees people as the problem, while 95% of performance is actually explained by the system within which these people operate.
Creating effective management development programs
Management, by definition, integrates many different perspectives. It’s how joint human accomplishment comes about. Management development must likewise integrate business functions, technology, leadership and human behaviour. The integrating function is management’s core task of building organisations as enablers of human performance.
In many ways, management can be seen as profession. That means there’s a body of knowledge on which good practice relies. As a relatively young discipline, management’s body of knowledge is still developing. Nevertheless we have a lot of sound management theory in different areas such as innovation, strategy, systems thinking or human performance. Effective management development is based on such sound theory.
Embedded in practice
Effective management development is connected to practice. In management, knowledge is useless when it is not applied to create results. Cases and exercises are fine to help understand a concept, but real learning and development only happens when theory is applied to real work.