Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Need a little tiger management too!

Okay dammit, lead from the front already.

Perhaps I've pushed this lead from behind concept too much? Last night my grad students "climbed Everest" (via Harvard B. School Publishing's simulation). Because I assign roles in advance of class, leaders are predetermined (the teams don't get to choose their leaders).

Unlike my undergrad leaders, who seemed to completely lack the ability to lead from behind and yanked their team up the mountain whether they wanted to go or not (some team members have hidden goals to stay at lower camps -- a setup in the simulation), the leaders last night seemed to be working so hard to be nice, neither got a single member to the top!

These students attended my management course and are now in a more advanced leadership course. In the management course I taught them to listen to and coach their teams. But I thought I balanced that with meeting organization and personal goals. One has to listen: honor direct reports' goals while ensuring surfacing hidden information. Then one must make a decision or, if using a participative management style, ensure the team makes the decision based on fully-available information and with full awareness and understanding that some individual goals will not be met. By struggling to ensure each teammember met his individual goals, neither leader came close to meeting group goals.

What about you? Have you figured out how to be the right mix of tiger and participative manager?

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