Product or People

I was born in 1985. I’ve never known a time where self-help books didn’t adorn the shelves in friends’ homes and grandparents’ coffee tables. Some books claim to help you have a better marriage or get rich by sending your wants into the universe, but some of the most popular self-help books are written for leaders and managers (and some of the tips included in self-help books are actually awful for your career). Covey and Carnegie are on all the lists, and they’re required reading in my management class. So it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact the field of management is relatively new as a research topic. That's why I'm fascinated by the Michigan Leadership Studies, which began in the 1950s. The studies said that managers could either be job-oriented or employee-oriented. Well, duh. That seems obvious, right? Some managers care more about the product than the people producing it. But at the time, the Michigan Leadership Studies were the first formal research into management, and formed an important framework for the conversation of management practices that exists today.

I think we largely think of job- or employee-oriented management as task- or person-management today. As a manager it’s important to understand which focus you have so that you can attempt to balance your natural tendencies. The Blake Moulton Managerial Grid helps you identify your leadership style and compensate for your natural leanings. It’s a good framework to help you be more aware of where you fall in the scheme of management styles, and is useful for helping you make sure you’re stretching yourself as a manager for the benefit of the team.

Where do you fall? Has there been a time when you realized that you needed to step outside your natural tendencies to communicate better with your team?