More than enough managers, but where is the management?


You have all the managers you need.
Can you turn them into leaders?

asks Harvard Business Review (HBR Nov 2014).


For many years now, we have been seeing this push to leadership. It's been the new black for quite some time and we see a massive amount of resources thrown into leadership programs. But, I wonder... are leadership programs delivering the results we want, or are we missing the point?

Don't get me wrong. I think leadership is important. Indeed talk to us if you are looking for great leadership development. But leadership in the absence of good management is like papering over the cracks. Enough pressure and those cracks will show through. The vision, the big picture, the inspiration might be there, but who will make sure they are delivered?

It is the managers who operationalise the strategy and lead their team to deliver on the vision. Research by Google reinforces what we already know. It's the managers who are the major factor in employee performance and how they feel about their job. And who else but the employees will deliver on the plan?


I've worked with thousands of managers. Many of them manage off the side of their desks as they rush to meet increasing and competing demands to get things done. I see managers thrown into their new role with no induction or discussion about what the role really is, and I see job design and organisational expectations that make it almost impossible to manage well.

And whilst there is often a focus on developing the leaders we don't see the same focus on the development of managers.

We may have more than enough managers, but we don't have nearly enough management.



So, before we hurry off to the latest leadership program, let’s enable our managers to provide the kind of value based management that makes a difference. Let's give them the time, the culture, the support and the skill development to do their work well. Let's help them define and set priorities, establish expectations and accountabilities, build effective teams and support individuals to do their best work.

Then when we throw some leadership into the mix we will truly get the kind of results we want. 



Helen Rees is Director of Frameworks for Change – a management company whose quest is to transform the world of work.