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The Bad Smell

The Bad Smell

The MBA for Leadership Blaggers - Part 2

In “It’s about the people, stupid” we crammed 21 centuries of leadership thinking into 400 words – an MBA for leadership blaggers! 

In the last two centuries a lot more has been written on leadership.  Sadly some of it served to widen the gap between leaders and followers that Machiavelli fortified over 500 years ago.

19th Century: In the 1840’s the Scot Thomas Carlyle developed the “Great Man” theory of leadership.  In his view leaders were born, not made.   You either had it, or you didn’t – and if you did then you would make great things happen.  If you didn’t – well, tough.  You were either a leader, or a follower.  You were either a manager, or a worker. 

20th Century: At the beginning of the 20th Century, in the middle of ‘time and motion’, Frederick Taylor creates ‘Scientific Management’.  Instead of motivating people simply optimise the way work is done.  The ‘right way’ to do a job was developed – you were no longer responsibile for the way you carried out your work.  Management worked out the right way and workers did as they were told.

To be fair, his approach led to massive increases in productivity for the age in which he lived.  But the world of work has moved on and scientific management as a theory in it’s own right was parked by the 1940s.  However, the massive gap it created between managers and doers still lingers on like a bad smell. 

Managers decide how work is done - workers do the work. 

Managers have all the good ideas - workers put them into practice. 

Managers know the right way to do it – workers know nothing. 

How much of that thinking is going on in your organisation?  It may not be quite so blatant but perhaps there is more than you would like to see?  Don’t just look at others – what about you?



Image by Julia Freeman-Woolpert – freeimages.com

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