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Managers who don't lead are quite discouraging, but leaders who don't manage don't know what's going on. It's a phony separation that people are making between the two.
Companies are communities. There's a spirit of working together. Communities are not a place where a few people allow themselves to be singled out as solely responsible for success.
You can teach all sorts of things that improve the practice of management with people who are managers. What you cannot do is teach management to somebody who is not a manager, the way you cannot teach surgery to somebody whose not a surgeon.
We're all flawed, but basically, effective managers are people whose flaws are not fatal under the circumstances. Maybe the best managers are simply ordinary, healthy people who aren't too screwed up.
What you get out of an M.B.A. programme, no matter how much experience, is functional tools and understanding in disciplines: you'll understand economics, you'll understand marketing, finance, accounting. That, M.B.A. programmes do very well.
What I have against M.B.A.s is the assumption that you come out of a two-year program probably never having been a manager - at least for full-time younger people M.B.A. programs - and assume you are ready to manage.
I describe management as arts, crafts and science. It is a practice that draws on arts, craft and science and there is a lot of craft - meaning experience - there is a certain amount of craft meaning insight, creativity and vision, and there is the use of science, technique or analysis.
Often, M.B.A.s will parachute around from one company or industry to another, without really understanding what's behind it.
Basically, managing is about influencing action. Managing is about helping organizations and units to get things done, which means action. Sometimes, managers manage actions directly. They fight fires. They manage projects. They negotiate contracts.
If the private sectors are about markets and the public sectors are about governments, then the plural sector is about communities.
Technologies tend to undermine community and encourage individualism.
So technologies, whether it is a telephone or an iPhone, computers in general or automobiles, television even, all individualize us. We all sit in front of our iPhones and communicating but are we really communicating?
This obsession with leadership... It's not neutral; it's American, this idea of the heroic leader who comes in on a white horse to save the day. I think it's killing American companies.
My feeling about executive bonuses is that any candidate for a chief executive job who even raises the issue of bonuses should be dismissed out of hand.
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Jack Kent Cooke
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