Opinion: Let’s kill all the managers

by Edward Israel Ayide

I learnt one thing about managers on my way to work this morning, they are the type of people that Steven Covey talked about in his book THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE; Those who know how to marshal the forces to clear a path through the forest only to discover at the end that they’ve been clearing the wrong forest. Most modern managers actually do what the word itself suggests: they MANAGE. They forget one basic fact that the fuel that drives organizations to succeed do not require that you manage resources, but that you maximize them. In the constantly evolving modern organizational structure, experience has shown that the need for transformational leadership in a company, even in an economy, is one that cannot be over-emphasized.

My experience this morning showed me that more often than not, the case with most organizations is that managers focus all their effort on minimizing cost up to the point where they begin to reduce productivity. Back home in Nigeria here, it seems that our traditional beliefs about power and seniority have a lot to do with the fact that most managers or superiors in our organization exert more energy on showing whoever cares to notice that they are in charge, rather than focusing on emerging trends and spearheading the movement of the organization towards greater success. We need to know this one thing above any other, this is 2012 and the reason why most economies(such as ours in Nigeria) are still where they were 20 years or more ago is because people have not woken up to modern business and organizational realities. There’s a fallacious proverb that says “let’s do it the way we’ve been doing it, so the result will be as it has always been”. What a very crazy approach to change and progress in the 21st century! In fact Albert Einstein said it all “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

How can we hope for change in an organization when we have left the tools to effect that change in the hands of people hell bent on maintaining the status quo? A management model that relies heavily on MANAGEMENT at the expense


of TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP is one that is designed to crash and burn, taking with it all that the organization has achieved and hopes to achieve. A lot of supervisors, managers and bosses have a profound love for RED TAPE, BUREAUCRACY and unnecessary bottlenecks in the decision making process. They believe, quite erroneously, that the best way to run any organization is to make sure that things continue to work, they fail to realize that that some things need to stop and newer approaches need to be introduced. They operate with this theory “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and that seems to be the bane of most organizations.

As we all evolve individually and as organizations, we need to rely more on those people who portray leadership traits, not on those who seem best suited or qualified for a managerial position. An elderly friend once told me that he employs people based on what they can do for him in three months, not based on what they’ve studied for four years. And believe me that is truth! Global businesses are realizing that the man who seems most qualified for the job is not always the best man for the job. The best man always is the one who understands why what needs to be done, needs to be done. Here’s a quote by a man who surprisingly did not live in our time, but who perhaps realized back then that this is a lasting truth; “The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who also knows why will always be his boss.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. That is the kind of manager we need in modern organizations, the manager who knows WHY. Why we are spending money on advertising, why we want to make sure that computers are safe from viruses, why we continually hammer on the importance of neatness of self and the work area, why perception is key…WHY,WHY,WHY.

The managers who know what and how to do it just don’t cut it anymore. Managing a team requires that you be passionate about what needs to be done and how will you get that passion if you don’t know the rationale behind the project you are heading? Take for example a foreman who is in charge of a road that promises to bring development to his local community, the fact that it is his community means that he will go the extra mile, do the extra job to make sure that the project is delivered. And on time. Compare him to the guy who just drives a bulldozer, who merely sees the project as work; a means to make some extra bucks. Compare the way they will go about the job. One will see it as an opportunity to make a mark and as such will give his all to it, while the other will see it as just a means to an end thereby going about it like an automaton.

I know that the title of my note seems like a very extreme cure for the organizational equivalent of the common cold, so please don’t go firing your managers, or believing that your position as managers or such are redundant in modern organizations. No, Managers, Team Leads, Rulers, whatever name you’ve been given is not what determines what you do. What matters is your own outlook to the work that needs to be done. What this article is calling for is a change from the status quo, to more relevant, more progressive ways of managing. We need to understand that a good leader knows how to delegate and teach his followers how to do his own job in his absence. Too much centralization of power in an organization (or even in government) always has negative effects. Power and the decision making process need to be decentralized so as to afford change to be effected from every part of the organization. Your receptionist might just have an idea that could improve your organization or bring in more revenue, but this cannot be if the “Idea bringing department” has a monopoly on effecting change.

Let me stop here with this; leaders don’t want to control or lead people, they want to influence people in a bid to effect lasting change that would work towards the achievement of the greater common good.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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