Abraham Zaleznik on Leadership

In the late 1970’s and early 80’s a number of writers ganged up on management. They were looking for a scapegoat to blame for the failure of U.S. business to cope with the Japanese commercial invasion. The war cry was to replace managers with leaders. One of the most strident critics of management was the Harvard Business School professor, Abraham Zaleznik. It is time to bring management back from the dead, to take its rightful place alongside leadership as an essential organizational function. To do this we need to expose the writings of management’s detractors to show what nonsense they were writing. Actually, there was nothing wrong with the function of management in the 1970’s, just the way it was practiced. The attack of Zaleznik is especially important to address because the Harvard Business Review is still publishing his original 1977 article (Managers and leaders: Are they different?) in their collection of articles on leadership, thereby creating the impression that his views are still relevant and up to date when they are actually dangerously outdated and harmful.

Zaleznik makes his case against modern management by comparing it with Fredrick Taylor’s scientific management theories. Bearing in mind that Taylor died in 1915, it is astonishing that Zaleznik does not demonstrate why it is legitimate to compare Taylor’s views with the way modern managers operate, so his views are questionable even before we start to examine his arguments.

In a book published in 1989, The Managerial Mystique, Zaleznik says that ”what Taylor proposed through his system of management lies at the core of how modern managers are supposed to think and act. The principle is rationality. The aim is efficiency.” Most importantly, Zaleznik believed that managers and leaders differ in terms of their personalities. Taking his lead from Taylor, Zaleznik describes managers as being cold efficiency machines who ”adopt impersonal, if not passive, attitudes towards goals.” Further, ”Managers see themselves as conservators and regulators of an existing order of affairs.” He tells us that ”managers’ tactics appear flexible: on the one hand they negotiate and bargain; on the other, they use rewards, punishments, and other forms of coercion.” So, managers are only apparently flexible and they are coercive, even manipulative in Zaleznik’s eyes. In his 1977 article Zaleznik makes exactly the same claim, stating that: ”…one often hears subordinates characterize managers as inscrutable, detached and manipulative.”

Zaleznik would have us believe that, while managers seek activity with people, they ”maintain a low level of emotional involvement in those relationships.” They also apparently ”lack empathy”. Zaleznik expands on the emotional theme in The Managerial Mystique by telling us that managers ”operate within a narrow range of emotions. This emotional blandness when combined with the preoccupation on process, leads to the impression that managers are inscrutable, detached and even manipulative.

It is not clear what evidence Zaleznik has for these damning charges. He seems to be doing nothing more than extrapolating from Fredrick Taylor’s conception of management without ever asking himself whether management as a function is committed to Taylor’s characterization of it. Starting with Taylor’s worship of machine-like efficiency, Zaleznik has tarred all managers for all time with the same brush.

Zaleznik believes that leaders are creative and interested in substance while managers are only interested in process – how things are done, not what. For Zaleznik, ”leaders, who are more concerned with ideas, relate in more intuitive and empathetic ways.” No doubt leaders are more interested in ideas than how they get implemented, but there is no basis whatsoever for calling leaders more empathetic than managers.

Fundamentally, there is no real basis for this personality distinction. It is not good enough to say that managers were controlling from the time of Taylor until the Japanese invasion showed them up. Even if this is historically accurate, there is nothing in this alleged fact that commits management to operating today in this manner. The simple way around Zaleznik’s condemnation of management is to define it functionally, in terms of what purpose it serves, not in terms of how it actually achieves its purpose. This leaves the means of managing completely open.

Management versus Leadership

An easy way of defining leadership and management is to say that leaders promote new directions while managers execute existing ones. In addition, it is widely recognized today that leaders can have widely different personalities ranging from quiet, determined and factual to bubbly, erratic but inspiring cheerleader types. The whole movement to differentiate leaders from managers along personality lines has failed miserably and it is time to give it up. The truth is that both leaders and managers can be inspiring, they just have a different focus. An inspiring leader moves us to change direction while an inspiring manager motivates to work harder. Yes, managers promote efficiency, but this doesn’t have to mean Fredrick Taylor’s mechanistic assembly line efficiency. Management is like investment. Effective managers deploy all resources at their disposal where they will get the best return on that investment. In modern organizations, populated by intelligent knowledge workers, this might mean setting up self-managing teams. To get the best return out of such talent, modern managers need to be good coaches, nurturers and developers of people. Of course, they need to measure and monitor performance to know if their deployments of people are paying off, but this does not entail doing so in a cold, mechanical or controlling manner.

In conclusion, management is just as important a function in organizations as leadership and it is time to cast aside the views of writers such as Abraham Zaleznik who argue otherwise. Moreover, the fact that his writing is still endorsed by the Harvard Business School raises questions about their credibility.

Summary and Review of Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results

Daniel Goleman’s article, Leadership That Gets Results, is one of the best articles from the Harvard Business Review archives. As the noted author of the book, Emotional Intelligence, Goleman combines his expertise in emotional intelligence with research on leadership styles done by the consulting firm, Hay/McBer. Their research uncovers six distinct leadership styles. Goleman concludes that there is no one best style, but the best leaders use their emotional intelligence to determine which style will best fits their specific situation. He describes each of the leadership styles, their advantages and disadvantages, and offers some brief examples of how a leader might apply the style. Every leader or aspiring leaders should understand each of these styles and how they can be used:

Coercive Style: This is a compliance focused style that is characterized by the phrase “Do what I tell you.” Although this style works well in extreme circumstances of a crisis or turnaround, in most cases it will have a negative impact on the overall organization once the crisis is past.

Authoritative Style: This style is used by leaders who have a clear vision for the organization and can rally people by saying, “Come with me.” It is a generally a positive style and works really well when an organization that has floundered in the past can be inspired to move in the direction of a new vision.

Affilitative Style: This is a style that is used by leaders to build harmony and teamwork within an organization. It is characterized by the phrase, “People come first.” Leaders will use this style to break down silos, to build relationships, and to get people to communicate and cooperate.

Democratic Style: As the name implies, this style is used to get people to buy-in and to build consensus. It is best described by the phrase “What do you think?” It works well in professional environments where subordinates have deep expertise and access to information so that they can collaborate to make informed, consensus driven decisions. However, the democratic style can also be frustrating because it will require many meetings and discussions to arrive at a consensus.

Pacesetting Style: This style is often used by leaders who have technical expertise and can lead by example. Hence the phrase, “Do as I do, now” best describes this style. Pacesetting can achieve quick results if the team has expertise and primarily needs to be motivated; however, this style can also be de-motivating since the focus is on the leader performance and high standards. It deprives some on the team from demonstrating their own leadership and expertise, or causes others to feel overwhelmed by the fast pace and demanding standards.

Coaching Style: This style is used by leaders to develop people through coaching. Those using the coaching style will suggest ideas to subordinates with the catch-phrase, “try this.” This style works well when people are receptive to coaching, but can also require patience and a willingness to accept failure by the leader/coach when subordinates are in a learning mode.

Goleman’s conclusion that there is no one best style is supported by additional research that correlates six factors of organization climate with each of the styles. The organizational factors include: flexibility, responsibility, standards, rewards, clarity, and commitment. The research shows that the coercive and pacesetting styles have a negative correlations on organizational climate while the other four styles have a positive impact. Thus, except for unusual circumstances where coercive and pacesetting styles might be appropriate, leaders should normally use a combination of the authoritative, affiliative, democratic and coaching styles to achieve success. The best leaders will sense from their emotional intelligence when to use each of these styles. If you are an aspiring leader or a leader who wants to get to the next level of leadership excellence, Goleman’s article is a great primer on how to effectively use different leadership styles.

Leadership Team Development Business Review – Are They Legit?

There is a lot of buzz on the internet about whether or not the Leadership Team Development (LTD) business is a scam. In order to figure this out, let’s first gain some insight into what exactly LTD is.

LTD was originally known as Winters Marketing, named after its founder, Larry Winters. Larry is an Independent Business Owner (IBO) in the Amway Global opportunity, who was originally part of the Britt World Wide (BWW) team. Sponsored by Crown Paul Miller, Larry has achieved great success within Amway, having reached the level of Double Diamond in August 2007. Larry and his top leaders formed LTD as a way to provide training and support for the IBO’s on their teams. Amway offers training specific to particular products within the Amway business line for IBOs, but organizations like LTD provide more in depth knowledge, motivational messages and training.

LTD is made up of the 12 diamond businesses that are actually a part of Larry’s Amway business team, as well as 11 additional Diamond businesses that are Amway affiliated, but not part of Larry’s Amway business. PDP’s are not mandatory, and a business team is not required to affiliate their business with any PDP, including that of their upline.

The LTD team provides training to IBO’s in these organizations through several means: books, CD’s, DVD’s, weekly and quarterly training seminars, and special events. In particular, the LTD team puts focus on teaching the Quality Invite (QI) marketing system for building their business, which is used to interview potential prospects, as well as promote attendance at their weekly education seminars throughout the country.

The answer to the question “Is the LTD business a scam” is a resounding no. The LTD business team provides an educational backbone that has resulted in proven success for LTD/Amway Global businesses. They offer training materials and events at a reasonable price, and the information provided typically is of good quality.

Where LTD has a deficiency is in the adoption and teaching of marketing strategies other than the QI to its affiliated members. Members are discouraged from learning techniques and strategies for building a successful network marketing business other than those being taught by their upline. At this time, they have deployed a web presence, but their efforts to drive traffic to their sites through online marketing strategies has been limited.

Typically, an LTD upline teaches their downline to build a list of names of everyone they know, through some type of memory jogger, the names and numbers in their cell phone, their friends on Facebook, etc… This list is where their initial QI prospects come from. Once they have gone through this list, the IBO is then encouraged to talk with everyone they meet as a potential QI candidate-the barista at Starbuck’s, the mailman, the janitor at work, anyone who gets within three feet of the business owner. All 23 of the LTD Diamonds have achieved that level using this technique. However, this is an approach that the larger portion of the population will struggle to execute, due primarily to differing personality types.