Chapter 6Managing People

I've observed many managers over the years and talked with several about their views and experiences regarding the management of people. Depending on whom you ask, managing people is everything from a rewarding privilege to a necessary evil. Some love the power of management while others say that people are just one big string of problems. I've seen equal diversity in leadership and management styles. For example, autocratic managers are prone to quick decisions and inclined to bark out orders. This tends to work in cop shows on television. At the other end of the continuum are consensus managers who won't make a move unless everyone agrees. But mostly I see managers who don't fit neatly into a box with a label. They display an array of eclectic management characteristics. Some are more effective than others.

The question that all of this raises for me is: What serves as our compass when it comes to leading and managing people? People, groups, and circumstances are all variable, so one size does not fit all. That which works in one situation may be disastrous in another. An interaction approach with one person may cause another to run out the door, and a leadership style that is effective with one group may backfire with another. Leadership and people management courses, which many managers have attended, can only take us so far. Eventually the cookbook runs dry and we are left in uncertain territory. For that reason, this chapter is not a recipe on ...

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