10 myths of management

Posted in Blog on 21 Nov 2018

70% of Solicitors and lawyers aspire to partnership or leadership position in the legal sector, year on year the data we acquire when producing our annual Salary and Benefits Benchmarker backs this up.

These high flyers prize gaining knowledge and experience as they look to further their careers. After all, knowing the right things can help legal professionals to take the right path to the higher echelons of management.

When it comes to management though, it’s equally important to understand what people get wrong about being the boss. Many people and organisations will have different ideas about what constitutes good management, with the reality of actual management practices being a far cry from best-practice.

This very principle underpins the business book, Myths of Management. It’s a refreshing read and different from the many books about management, because from the very first pages, it boldly states it is not trying to introduce new ideas. Instead, it is designed to explode a few myths – 44 to be precise – about management in an entertaining way.

A review of the book by London Business School states: 

The business of management is crucial, but prone to myth. In this fascinating book, Stefan Stern and Cary Cooper bring wit and courage to show what it takes to go beyond the hype and to become an insightful, and perhaps even brilliant, manager.

We were inspired to read the book and wanted to share some of the myths. It’d be impossible to cover all 44 here, so we’ve limited ourselves to 10.

Myth #3; Long hours will lead to success. 

It seems apt to cover this as we featured our Longest Day research in October’s Touchpoint. The authors highlight that ‘Being present but not productive – ‘presenteeism’– is no real use to anyone. And intimidating colleagues into staying late just for show is even worse.’

Myth #5; It’s lonely at the top. 

Analysis of this myth concludes with the poignant point; ‘If you are feeling lonely at the top, you are not doing it right. Open your door, get out of your office, talk to others, seek help and advice. Let the outside world in if you want to become a better boss.’

Myth #12; Annual appraisals help you manage performance. 

The debunking of this myth calls to ‘get rid of appraisals’, as the authors highlight, management is about ongoing conversations and not annual reviews that are heavily bureaucratic and counterproductive. However, it’s this analogy that caught our attention; ‘You wouldn’t save up all your ‘feedback’ to a partner in a relationship for a once-a-year truth-telling session.’

Myth #15; Leaders are born, not made. 

Similar to the debate about whether people are naturally talented or not, the authors challenge the notion that leadership is only for those born with natural leadership traits; ‘But leaders are not members of some obscure magical tribe. They are just people, plain you. Anyone can lead. Leaders are made, not born.’

Myth #21; Pay must be kept confidential. 

Here, discussion of this myth references the U.S. company, Whole Foods Supermarket, which has full transparency on pay. The company’s CEO is regularly challenged by colleagues about differences in pay, but always responds by highlighting people are paid based on the value they contribute to the company. An interesting point when considering this month’s article about ‘Preparing yourself for a pay rise’.

Myth #26; Feelings are soft and for losers. 

The myth is exploded in its introduction; ‘Numbers may be a hard fact in business, but they are driven by softer things – humans. It is not weak to acknowledge this.’

Myth #30; People are motivated by money. 

The ineffectiveness of performance related pay, carrots and sticks or as the term is known in Germany, sugar-bread and the whip, are all discussed and dismissed in this myth. A sense of purpose and better working environment are better motivators as it’s pointed out; ‘More money won’t make them do it better.’

Myth #38; You’ve got to talk like a real, serious, grown-up business person. Learn the jargon.
Actually, scrap that, don’t learn the lingo – speak simply and clearly, and reject the jargon. This myth is well worth a read, just for a run-down of the ‘business meeting bingo’……drill down, think outside the box, reach out and move the needle!

Myth #41; People hate change. 

They do, don’t they? Surely that’s not a myth? Ask yourself, bought any new clothes lately? Or a new car? Or even tried a new restaurant? People aren’t averse to change. ‘People hate stupid, unnecessary, imposed change.’

Myth #43; A cool office will make everybody more creative. 

Put simply, it won’t. ‘Culture is one thing and varnish is another. Beanbags cannot make up for a bad corporate culture.’ The authors observe that scooters, pinball machines, beanbags and table footfall didn’t save dozens of start-ups after the Web 1.0 mini boom.

Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment has placed a record number of candidates into Partnership and Leadership opportunities in 2018. To get the ball rolling on a move contact your nearest regional office and ask to speak to a regional head or senior legal recruitment consultant. Myths of Management is widely available online.

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