Could we separate management and power?
Many years ago I was chatting with a friend who wanted to be, and struck me as likely to be a very good, business manager. I being the sort to spit out potentially monetizable ideas fairly freely, he saw me as a potential asset. And I, well, I saw him as the same. “What,” thought I, “if I were to hire him to be my boss? I could spend my time doing all the fun thinking and doing and he could mess with all the tedious business stuff…”. While that thought left as quickly as it came, it changed how I see the world.
There appears to be a rule in this world, an all-but inviolate correlation: the manager is in charge. But why should this be so?
There is clearly an overlap between managing and bossing. A manager’s job is to sort through the myriad pressures on a business and to suggest actions that various employees ought to take to handle it. A boss’s job is to make final calls when people are in disagreement about what to do. Both, thus, are in the business of telling other people what to do. That there should be some inclination to have them be the same person is natural. Indeed, if the executive wants to manage, there is no one to stop them except perhaps the board, and few of those seem to take sufficient interest.
But I often find that managers and bosses would be more wisely distinct. If the same person makes and approves the plans, the plans themselves are unverified. The ability to create a good plan for a difficult situation and the ability to convince people to happily accept unpleasant assignments are rarely shared in my (admittedly limited) experience. I prefer to trust power with conservative souls who avoid strange ultimatums; conversely, I prefer a manager with the gumption to question the status quo.
I’m glad my policemen aren’t my congressmen. Would that those businesses of my acquaintance had similar sense.