Management Design: Structure and Feedback in a focused area of leadership

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In my previous article, I propose a design that allows for a more systemic and purposeful way of developing managers and leaders.  The basic idea is to provide leadership opportunities (setting strategy) and management opportunities (executing the strategy) without conflating both.

Here’s how it looks in the Manager by Designsm leadership and management model:

Under this model, the design is to identify people who are good at strategy, identify people who are good at strategy execution (management) and make sure that they are good at either strategy or strategy execution.

The same individual can try out both paths – if that individual is considered some sort of amazing performer – but this design is intended to find lots of people who are good at leadership and management, not just that magical super-performer as the current designs seem to be skewered toward.

As part of this proposed design, the individual producer either surfaces with strategy ideas or is given an opportunity to serve on a strategy development session, if that is something they are interested in doing.  It’s their chance to provide leadership.  (This is the loop into the strategist area.)

Now, instead of having the person “go it alone” and figure out “strategy”, how about if we take advantage of this opportunity and provide some structure and feedback along the way.

Yes, provide criteria of success for “doing strategy” and perhaps even a checklist of elements that would be provided on what is expected of that individual in the strategy.  Then as part of the process, provide feedback to that individual on how they are doing in “doing strategy.”

For the feedback portion, you could either have a 3rd party coach for this crucial first go, and then have people who have gone through the process perform the role of the coach/mentor.

Through the structure and feedback process, the person gets to execute on a strategic need, develop skills in “doing strategy” and is many times more likely to replicate the key actions of “doing strategy”, demonstrate leadership, and this skill set has been developed according to the company culture and expectations, and can be drawn upon in the future either for the strategy setting process or developing more leader/strategists.

At this point, you have strategists who expect structure and feedback as they approach leadership tasks.  They will perform the role in a manner that treats it like a skill set, and will reinforce the aspects of this skill set to the less structured situations that inevitably arise.

Now this doesn’t have to be something done on an enterprise scale.  This could (and often is) done at the team level (individual leads a session) or at a division level (task force to solve problem X).  The key is to assure that when the “leadership opportunity” is provided, there is some structure and feedback so that the person knows what that involves – the expectations — and whether they are doing it well – the feedback.

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About Walter Oelwein
Walter Oelwein, CMC, CPT, helps managers become better at managing. To do this, he founded Business Performance Consulting, LLC .


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