Tag Archives: Brian Robertson

Critical Management Questions I Can’t Answer

Thirty-some years in business, and I’m still troubled by management style. Maybe it’s that (MBA or not) I’ve never been comfortable with authority — Not with accepting it, and not with wielding it. But I managed.

But lack of authority sometimes seems worse. Have you been in one of those situations where everybody on the team has to like something like a packaging design, an ad layout, tag lines, or messaging? Have you seen it when one person who does one set of functions is pushing strong views on something that has nothing to do with his expertise? I don’t think management by consensus actually works. It always reminds me of that old saying:

If colors were managed by consensus, every room would be painted beige.

Or maybe it’s that there’s no consistency in what works and what doesn’t.

For a really different view, the other day I listened to a Buddhist Geeks podcast called liberating the soul of the organization, an interview with Brian Robertson, founder of HolacracyOne. Here’s the description:

…. a system that Brian helped develop as a new operating system on which businesses can run. He distinguishes between what he calls “predict-and-control” management practices and “sense-and-respond” processes, which are much more like the dynamic steering of a bicycle.

That’s an interesting interview, to be sure. It includes parallels between management and meditation. I‘m not saying that’s the next new big thing; but change, new views, and different approaches are good. Change things up. Take a new viewpoint. There’s a lot to be said for a fresh new look, in management and leadership, as in about anything else.

And then that same day was also the day I read Anger is not a leadership skill on Small Business Trends. No argument with that one. Diane Helbig writes:

You don’t get people to perform at their best when you spend your time beating them down. Fear is not a motivator. This behavior isn’t something that is learned in leadership training courses. It comes from one of a couple of places – insecurity, fear or mistrust. I submit that you can’t be successful if you operate from any of these platforms.

I certainly agree with that one.

Could it be that good management, like good leadership, is an art? Unpredictable? Hard to learn and hard to teach? Or that good leadership is like good software: hard to predict, hard to describe, but you know it when you see it?