The Bum Rap of Management


When the majority of people hear the word MANAGER they sometimes cringe a bit on the inside.  They envision a stuffy middle age man sitting behind a large oak desk barking orders.  They can almost hear the slightly pompous tone of voice from the mildly overweight balding man sitting in his cave of an office who obviously only got his position from kissing up to the boss and playing office politics.  His people know he has no true experience and is so out of touch with what the people under him go through that he can’t relate to them on any real level.  The only thing he knows is to follow the guidelines of what is written in some management book years ago that taught how to deal with the “Silent Generation”.


His methods exist only to serve him and what puts money in his own fat wallet. He blames his people when things go wrong and takes the credit when they go right.  He cares nothing about his people except to keep them happy enough to keep producing his desired results.  He’s learned a few mild pleasantries to pass through small talk and allow him to not be perceived as a total jerk.


The only leadership training he has is to keep people in line of ranks of authority and thinks that it’s a good thing to be rude.  He shows power by attempting to bust people for errors and catch them in lies.  Sometimes he will keep this style and try to be the cool boss who is everyone’s friend but doesn’t change what he does…. only what he says.  When people hear this word ……. MANAGER they envision the faux kingdom they’ve set up for themselves that keep them unapproachable and distant.  THAT’S what most people see.


This type of bad behavior has caused a shift in the world of management.  So much so, that a once endearing word has become something people try to avoid all together.  MANAGEMENT is now a bad word.  This is so sad to me because management still exist.  It’s just called something different.  We’ve put a new label on it.  It’s now called LEADERSHIP.


Just go into any Barnes and Noble and browse the management section and you will rarely find a new book with the word “Management” in the title.  This perception of management has such a negative connotation that authors fear putting it in the title because they know their book won’t sell.  Instead they replace it with the word, “Leadership”.


John Maxwell defines leadership as influence, nothing more nothing less.


A leader is actually defined as: somebody whom people follow: somebody or something in front of all others: a front runner.


A manager is defined as: organizer of business: somebody who is responsible for directing and controlling the work and staff of a business, or of a department within it.


With that being said, leadership is not a bad thing; not at all.  In fact it’s a necessity. I just think a manager HAS to be more than a leader.  If being a leader means being a front runner, then a manager isn’t it.  Leadership is a quality that a manager should have in order to be an effective manager.  Being a leader is to be the one in front of the others in the pack.  A manager is something more.  A manager is on a higher plane, or at least should be!


A good manager directs a group of people and finds, develops, and facilitates the success of his people.  Those who are the best of his people, those chosen few, they are the leaders.  They are the stand out players who influence the excellence of others by example.


I imagine management like being the offensive coordinator or coach of a football team. This coach recruits and develops his people until the best from among them rise to the top and the front runner emerges to reveal himself.  This leader becomes the quarterback.  He is the one on the field actually playing and leading the team.  The offensive coordinator is directing the plays according to the strengths of his own team and the weaknesses of the opposing team.  He gives advice, encouragement, and holds them accountable to high standards.  However the coach can’t be on the field.  He’s the coach.  He’s more than a quarterback.


If he tries to be quarterback a few problems can emerge.   He is busy avoiding tackles, looking for an open receiver to throw to and trying to read the defense; with all of this going on, he has no time to think of the next play and see the game from an overall vision.  If the quarterback is the one calling all the shots, the success of the team has a single point of failure.  He is so busy working IN the business; he doesn’t have time to work ON the business.


When a leader has all the control and recognition he can very easily become a glory hog and a form of a tyrant.  That’s why he needs a MANAGER; someone who will be there to guide the leader taking responsibility when things go wrong and someone who will give his people ALL the credit and recognition when things go right.  Leadership is important, but only one piece of the pie.

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15 thoughts on “The Bum Rap of Management

  1. Rajiv says:

    This is actually very true. Management,especially in my younger days, was all about shuffling papers around, being pompous and bullying and patronizing. We do talk a lot about leadership in India, and in the companies that I have worked with. In my last company we wanted a global leadership model that everyone was expected to follow. I believe that leadership is contextual, but that the essential principles are more universal

    Wonderful post

  2. You hit the nail on the head with your statement…”They are the stand out players who influence the excellence of others by example.” A good manager is not worried about rolling up their sleeves when needed, they coach by example and know how to network for the big picture.

  3. pmcounseling says:

    great post.. We need to say this out loud more. Particularly those of us who teach this generation of new managers. They all want to be leaders, and that aspiration is a good one. But they must first learn how to manage! Bravo on a great write-up!

  4. ekurie says:

    Beautifully said. You have a true grasp of what’s wrong but more importantly what is good about corporate/private enterprise leadership.

  5. I think there is a difference between management and leadership. Management ensures the day-to-day operations and the implementation of the overall vision and Leadership is where the overall vision, strategy and direction comes from – Usually the CEO or owner of a company. Both positions have elements of management and leadership, but there is a difference.

  6. Excellent post! There is a huge difference between leadership and management, and I’m a firm believer that we need both. I’m a great manager and always looking to improve and for ways to lead my team, but my primary role is to manage, to keep everyone else on track, and I’m okay with that. 🙂 Well done Cranston!

  7. I think you’re right that there is a distinction that, in many cases, has been blurred in recent decades. I would suggest that not all managers are leaders, but all good leaders should also be good managers.

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