Managing Complex Enterprises – Some initiatives

The need for managers will increase with the development of more complex enterprises. Rapid growth of knowledge useful to management will demand a higher quality of managers. Greater effort is being given the development of persons who can better perform managerial functions. It provides some of the available knowledge useful to future managers and indicates the attitude and point of view of good managers.

Executive development programs have long been a useful means for supplying the needed manager personnel. More recently, attention has been given to Organizational-Development (OD), which includes the process of reeducation and training to increase the adaptability of the organization to environmental requirements. Organizational, development thus is a broad subject area of management, since its focus is on group adaptations rather than personal leadership qualities.

The characteristics of a good manager may be described in broad terms of initiative, dependability, intelligence, judgment, good health, integrity, perseverance and so on. The trouble, with this broad approach is that it is not very useful in describing how a given individual can develop into a better manager. Two more useful approaches provide conceptual help to those aspiring to managerial.

One approach is to explain the skills which can be developed. In this approach three skills are fundamental: (1) technical, (2) human, and (3) conceptual. Technical skills relate to the proficiency of performing an activity in the correct manner and with the right techniques. This skill is the easiest to describe, because it is the most concrete and familiar. The musician and the athlete must learn how to play properly and must practice their skills. The executive, likewise, develops skills in such areas as mechanics, accounting selling and production that are especially important at lower levels of an organization. As the executive rises to more responsibility, other skills become relatively more important. A second required skill involves human relationship. The executive deals with people and must be able to ‘get along’ with them. Human relations concentrate on developing this skill of cooperating with others. However, if colleagues notice that the executive has read a book on “how to win friends” and is consciously attempting to manipulate them, trouble develops. A third skill involves conceptual ability: to see individual matters as they relate to the total picture. This skill is the most difficult to describe, yet is the most important, especially at higher levels of an organization. Much of this skill can be learned and is not “just born into a person”. Conceptual skill depends on developing a creative sense of discovering new and unique ideas. It enables the executive to perceive the pertinent factors, to visualize the key problems, and to discard the irrelevant facts.

A second approach in analyzing factors important for developing managers is knowledge factors, attitude factors, and ability factors. Knowledge factors refer to ideas, concepts, or principles that are conscious able to be expressed, and accepted because they are subject to logical proof. Attitude factors relate to those beliefs, feelings, desires, and values that may be based on emotions and that may not be subject to conscious verbalization. Interest in one’s work, confidence in one’s mental competence, desire to accept responsibility, respect for the dignity of one’s associates, and desire for creative contribution are some of the attitudes that can be acquired by proper education. Ability factors are too often treated as being unaffected by environment. Executive development depends upon attention to four major ability factors: skill, art, judgment, and wisdom. These ability factors are abstract, but they direct one’s thinking to factors that can be developed by the individual who takes the trouble to consider them.

Some people may be born leaders; others may be able to learn as apprentices while working with mature mangers; others may become successful mangers with education in the law, engineering, medicine, and so on. Yet, these leaders with innate abilities, varied practices, or education could more rapidly become superior mangers if they acquired the necessary knowledge and attitudes in the most efficient manner some formal recognition of the complex role of managers. Furthermore, in modern complex organizations the demand for managers is so great that reliance on elite leaders results in a deficiency in the supply of managers.

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