Ideas and issues when coming up the ranks

May 27, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Managing, like success, can change people. This can be good or bad, depending on many things.

In their book “The Idea-Driven Organization” Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder take a look at the problems managers face and ways that can help them deal with complicated, stressful and exhausting situations. They offer the following points:

  • As managers rise in the hierarchy and gain power, many situational forces come to bear on them that reduce their openness to ideas from subordinates. This can reduce the complexity of their thinking, make them listen less carefully and make them less open to others’ perspectives.
  • Fighting the negative effects of power takes place on two fronts: How managers are selected, developed and promoted and keeping managers grounded in what is happening in the front lines.
  • Idea-driven organizations look for managers with humility when hiring and promoting, and they cultivate it in their managers.
  • Most of the skills a supervisor needs to effectively manage ideas are those skills that any manager should have anyway, but in an idea-driven organization any shortcomings in these skills become obvious quickly. “What is the financial return of that idea?” is often not the smartest question to ask. Cost-benefit analysis should be used to inform decisions, not make them.