The curse of the accidental manager

On July 12th, the FT published an article headlined “The UK’s productivity problem: the curse of the ‘accidental manager”, you can find it here – https://www.ft.com/content/b96ce8f2-5dd9-11e8-ad91-e01af256df68.

Are pork pies good for you?

It is somewhat disquieting to read that the “Peter principle”, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle, continues to thrive in UK business.  Our poor productivity performance arises because too many people gain promotion into managerial roles beyond their level of natural competence.  However, in the firm featured in the FT article performance is improving.

It strikes me, however, that simply hanging up figures of Superman (is this unconscious bias by the firm’s leaders?), and doling out pork pies are rather superficial practices.  The only likely outcome of this epicurean approach is hardened arteries.

The firm’s performance growth is due to its managers doing something much more profound, i.e. the way they “serve” their employees, see Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Servant-Leadership-Robert-K-Greenleaf/dp/1576750353/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1531821205&sr=8-3&keywords=robert+greenleaf.

At the simplest level, they should be talking to their employees as equal partners striving for success.  When this is achieved, I hope they’re rewarded with more than cholesterol laden pies!

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Strategy and structure: squaring a necessary circle

Strategic decision making – is it history?

In 1977, the historian Alfred Chandler of Harvard Business School published a seminal book on the history of strategic decision making at the highest levels of American firms, including General Motors, DuPont, Standard Oil and Sears Roebuck.  Of these, GM and DuPont remain strong businesses.  Standard was broken up as in illegal monopoly in early 20th century although its progeny,  Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, continue to thrive.   Sears struggles as do so many retailers in the face of the storm called Amazon.  The book is called “The Visible Hand:  The Managerial Revolution in American Business”.  From the book comes a maxim that I believe still rings true.  It is attributed to Alfred Sloane, one of GM’s founders.  The maxim is, “Structure follows strategy”.

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What You Think You Deserve vs. What You Have Earned. A Tale about Hard Work

I was resting before my next fight during my latest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament when a mother of one of the kids, who was competing in the children’s competition,  approached me, looking quite desperate, looking for feedback she told me that she needed my help.  Her son had just lost his first fight against a more skillful kid and she insisted on showing me the video of her son’s fight to see if I could give her tips on how to improve his technique.  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a sport that does not believe in talent. One improves by training constantly. There is no secret formula for overnight improvement, just like life.  I looked at her and noticed that she was very concerned and recommended that she should have a talk with her son’s coach to understand the process and let him take care of his progress.  She replied, “I want to help him but I do not know how”.  I am also a father and completely understood her position.  We do not want our kids to go through unnecessary hardship.

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IF YOU DON’T WANT TO, DON’T…SAY NO!

Are you a “Yes-all the time-round the clock-person”? , Do you feel bad when you say No, so you immediately go to a “but” that opens a lines of real or unrealistics reasons to eventually say Yes?, Do you know why do you do it? Want to experience the “FREEDOM” that saying “NO” can bring to your life?, then let me share what I did to stop feeling guilty by really wanting to say no, and always ended up saying yes to everyone.

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Leadership Interview: Jennifer Yao ‘My Experience as a Coachee’

Jennifer Yao

The voice of the Coachee. This article is another chapter in an ongoing story about how coaching is Blooming in Shanghai. One year ago I published the article about Key Account Sales Manager Tracy Zhi’s experience as a Coachee. Staying with the same team in Shanghai, in February and March of this year I featured articles about Jerry Chen’s ‘Best’ and ‘Most Challenging’ coaching sessions with his direct report is an account manager Jennifer Yao.

Now it’s Jennifer Yao’s turn to tell her story. We hear from the person being coached. So listen up again Leadership Coaches; see what you can learn from Jennifer’s experience as a Coachee.

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