This is the second installment of the series. See Part 1 here.
Last week, we learned that leaders are managers. They must manage well, viewing management as a ministry, to connect conviction and operation, and to accomplish their organization’s mission more effectively.
But what exactly is management? Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman write on what I consider a people-centric kind of management. (And from this point on, I will be referring mostly to the authors’ management viewpoint.1) In their excellent management book First, Break All the Rules, Buckingham and Coffman describe the manager role as the “catalyst” role:
As with all catalysts, the manager’s function is to speed up the reaction between two substances, thus creating the desired end product. Specifically, the manager creates performance in each employee by speeding up the reaction between the employee’s talents and the company’s goals, and between the employee’s talents and the customers’ needs. When hundreds of managers play this role well, the company becomes strong, one employee at a time.2
In order to speed up the reaction, the “catalyst” (manager) must select a person, set expectations, motivate the person, and develop the person. These are the primary activities of a manager. If you noticed, these focus on the individual, on people. (So there goes away the conventional thinking that management is just processes, systems, and whatnots, lifeless and mechanical.) Sure, the manager may do other responsibilities. But he ought not to deviate from these if he would want to excel in his role.
Buckingham and Coffman go more specific on these activities. They say that managers must select for talent, define the right outcomes, focus on strengths, and find the right fit. These are the “four keys” to great management. (I will discuss more on this in a future installment.)
I think Buckingham and Coffman’s viewpoint is the “best management thinking”, in agreement to Matt Perman. It respects people’s individuality, freedom, and autonomy. Moreover, it ultimately respects the individual who is created in the image of God. This respect for people, according to Perman, is “the guiding principle of management.”
Leaders, are you a playing the “catalyst” role well? Do you speed up the reaction between your people’s talents the organization’s goals?
PS In this article, we just described what management is. In a future installment, we will be more specific on how to apply the “four keys” to great management. It will be the most practical in the series.
PPS Don’t forget to read Matt Perman’s whole article. It is a more comprehensive treatment on the subject of management. The title alone should already entice you to read it: “Management in Light of the Supremacy of God: How Should Christians Think About Management?”
1Dr. Albert Mohler have more in mind when talking about management, including budgets, policies, structures, etc. But in this series of articles, I will mostly be referring to management that focuses on people.
2Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, First, Break All the Rules (Great Britain: Pocket Books, 2005), 54.