Mintzberg Rejects Macro-Leadership
“Macro-leadership is just as bad
as micro-management.” Henry Mintzberg.
During our conversation, Mintzberg explained that, “It’s destructive to separate management from leadership. Leaders need to get their hands dirty.”
No buy in:
Mintzberg believes that leaders focused on setting strategy and vision but who are removed from the front lines eventually develop a vision for the organization so out of touch that the rest of the organization fails to buy in.
Frustrated buy in:
Mintzberg also believes there’s something worse than failure to buy in. There’s the problem of buying into a pie-in-the-sky vision but being incapable of taking any steps toward realization.
Disconnected strategy and vision is one problem with macro-leadership but there’s something more devastating.
“Arrogance comes from detachment.” Henry Mintzberg
When I asked Mintzberg to share the one piece of advice he most loves to share he said one word, “Connect.”
Connecting expresses, creates, and nurtures humility. Withdrawal suggests independence; connecting requires interdependence.
Humility is always practice never theory.
Talking humility without practicing humility results in arrogance. When Jesus said let the leader among you be as one who serves, he turned leadership on its head and explained the cure for arrogance.
“Humility is common sense… None of us is an expert at everything… Humility is holding power for the good of others.” John Dickson.
5 sources of arrogance:
- Being surrounded by indulgent “yes” people.
- Being a talker not a doer.
- Prior success. You think you know how to make it work because it worked before.
- Fear of saying, “I don’t know.”
Mintzberg’s latest book: “Managing”
How do leaders connect?
What prevents leaders from connecting?
In addition to points given for sources of arrogance, I would add some more- incompetence and ignorance. Arrogance disconnect with the people. And this could be strategy to safeguard position.Arrogant people are blind by their knowledge and success. They believe what they know is enough. And this perception leads them to be ignorant. I absolutely agree that taking about humility without practicing humility is disconnecting. And this disconnect results into arrogance. I believe that leaders can connect effectively by minimizing space with others. The size of the space determines effectiveness of leaders. This space prevents leaders from connecting. I also believe that when leaders are concerned about their personal development, they get disconnected from people. Leaders need to develop leaders. Leaders create impact on others even if they are not present. So, leaders need to create feeling in others. Feeling of action, connection, courage and decisions. However, the most important component of leaders are honesty, integrity, humility and courage.
Reblogged this on christopherpryde and commented:
I buy in to this.
Good morning Dan, great post as usual. I am in total agreement that managers, supervisors and business owners need to stay connect with their staff or they will not be able to really understand what the business is like in the trenches which is the where the heartbeat of the business is. Once this insight is lost they began down the path of disconnection. Have a great Sunday 🙂
Mintzberg is right, the macro-managers have no idea what they are doing and how it is hurting the organization. They have no idea what is happening and what is best for the organization. They are preaching one thing and their managers are dong the opposite. A real oxymoron.
Thanks for the post dan, really enjoying this series. The idea of humility really resonates with me and ties to the idea of organising with a foundation of empathy:
Looking forward to your next post
Managing from the sidelines doesn’t give you a feel of what is really going on. How do you know if your decisions are really the right ones?
You can’t depend on your instincts, because they are not in the field to understand what’s happening. And you can’t trust that line of “yes men” looking to score points with you at every chance.
You have to get your hands dirty, and also let the experts that YOU hired to get some space and work their magic.
Great piece of reading… Mr. Mintzberg hit the nail right on the head!
Its a very true dilema. Thanks for highlighting different consequences. Maintaining balance between macro and micro management is challenging. What if we allow to fail provided that it wan not an intentional?
Appreciate this post. I think there is a traditionalized sense that leaders are supposed to be “above” the fray of the front lines. While this may have been debunked in recent times, arrogance will forever be a pitfall of leadership. More dangerous than arrogance may be one that I recognized in myself early on, which is relegating leadership to the formal functions and settings of the organization rather than letting leadership live and breathe in every interaction. Sometimes those outside interactions are avoided, not out of arrogance but just neglect.
Good morning Dan,
As someone who works in the trenches, I marvel at why our feedback is not solicited before major policy and operation changes. This lack of dialogue is a cornerstone of disconnection and management arrogance.
At a few jobs, I have seen “change for the sake of change” take place only to change once again a few months later because the new policies were flawed. Had management bothered to consult the trenches, they would have avoided the unnecessary failure.
I also think that most managers and executives have an “us and them” mentality that prevents the possibility of authentic connection. My last CEO felt walking the rows of cubicles made him a “hands on” and engaged executive. In reality, he was guilty of all five contributors of arrogance.
Management and leadership are distinct skill sets. While there are plenty of managers who lack basic management skills, there are good managers who are not necessarily leaders. The development of leadership skills begins in a culture of transparency.
Thank you for the insightful post.
I think this ‘connect’ word, even when used to describe the interaction with senior leaders and sharp-end employees can be deceiving.
To many leaders make a play on ‘connecting’ and still retain the arrogance so eloquently described.
Authentic connection; without intimidation and following through what’s heard is what differentiates leaders who add value from those who just play the part.
Leadership should not be separated from management. But leadership must be distinguished from management. Because leadership should not be separated from non-management either.