Are people born great managers or are they made? nature or nurture?
I think nurture. Management can be taught. A manager is not to be confused with a leader, which I think is more nature (an intrinsic charter trait which is difficult / impossible to teach). Management can definitely be taught and the more experience once has at being a manager the better one can become. This assume all managers want to better themselves which clearly isn’t true as some managers (in my experience) couldn’t care about developing and/or think they know it all anyway.
I already know that I’ll never know everything about management, I will learn until I die.
Some say Steve Jobs has a reputation when being a shit manager. Great leader, shit manager, like a spoiled kid, ranting and raving if something wash’t going his way. This may have been true in his younger years but not in his older years, not during his return to Apple where he changed the world. So what changed? what makes a good manager or even a great manager?
Jobs learned how to become a better manager. How? I think via Pixar, at least thats the theory in Becoming Steve Jobs and this is an important step in Jobs career, one I take on board.
The premise is that one has to learn from others. Sounds basic and easy. Difficult to do though. Even the best observer has to implement the leanings, not only that but adapt them into their own business. I think that is a trick thing to do. Maybe this becomes easier as one gets more and more experience, maybe more mature? who knows.
But surely learning how to be a better manager is fantastic goal. I suppose a good manager gets things done. That in itself is an achievement. A great manager encourages everyone to get things done, to think for themselves, to take decisions, to push responsibility right down the structure, to hire people they can trust to take the business forward.
If I look at Apple between the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and without knowing the intricacies of the in workings, I speculate that decision making must have been pushed down and autonomy encouraged. The performance of the business over a 10 – 15 year peril is remarkable. This can only be achieved with A grade management.
Letting decision making go but still being the person who will take the fall if anything goes wrong takes courage. I noticed this blog from 2012 in Forbes which talks about the same type of idea: Accountability.
Maybe its courage that separates great from good managers and thus great companies from good companies?
I offer no conclusions here, just musings, more of which will appear soon.