The Leaders And Managers Constraints

Leaders, just like professionals, have similar constraints that cause anxiety. Perhaps more so as many leaders emerge out of professions and when we think of leaders most of us think of politicians. However, in my judgement, modern day politics is more about management than leadership. A leader is someone who has a vision of where we should be heading and then visibly communicates this vision to the rest of us in such a manner that the direction is facilitated in the most effective way. In addition to other important attributes this first important one is thwarted by all the rules and legislation that would immediately apply. It's interesting to note that there is concern that some medical advances are being made by leaders in this field within countries where the rules and regulation are more relaxed. One can see why many potential leaders, these days, remain as frustrated and anxious managers in many organisations. Within the Civil Service much talk is made about leadership, but in my experience the whole structure is based upon very good management and administration alone. In many ways leadership is discouraged.

Moving into the future with a declining population and the scenario that I have outlined will need a clear vision of the future and how this will be implemented, especially as at a top level, consideration will need to be made regarding our own country's position within the world community. The problem here is unless we create a culture whereby true leadership is encouraged, just like our true professional, we will lose the opportunity to create a rich culture than we have at present.

In some ways our present structure increases the role of managers as bureaucratic systems evolve. Their only cause of anxiety is when the system is under constant change while managerial decisions are in the process of being made, and themselves, subject to change. The present day problems occur as with micro-management all problems are seen to be able to be legislated for. This panacea to have everything written down creates further anxiety when problems with a system appear to be able to be solved by total replacement. For example if an organisational staff reporting system appears to have minor faults, as most will, it is thought a total replacement in structure will solve the problems. Yes it will in some cases but in others new problems will be created. No system is 'fault free' and perhaps as utopia is a long way away, it never will be - manage it. It would be far better and more effective to try and reduce as many minor problems as possible with an existing system and manage the other issues as they occur. This arose in the department I worked for and I criticised the necessity for a new system as high cost.

With present legislation becoming so complex it is also more difficult dealing with disciplinary issues - employment law is a nightmare! However, the present 'pink a fluffy' nature of many managers makes it even harder for any clear sighted manager to do what is necessary to maintain moral in any organisation.

Failure to deal with wrongdoers in a growing or stable, population also causes stress in those who live their lives according the way nature intended. An illustration of how this affects people within the workplace happened when I was a technical manager in the Civil Service. In typical civil service manner, a staff member whose behaviour should have been dealt with some years before was merely moved around the department in the bid, I suspect, to shift the problem elsewhere. Eventually the person was placed with me where around 40 staff in the area were rather perplexed that I accepted this problem person. However, after some time going the 'usual procedures' it was obvious to me that the senior managers did not want the necessary action taken but expected me to pass the problem on. During this time I noticed that the detrimental effect on staff morale in the work area couldn't continue. So I progressed the issue to the degree where the person could not avoid being dismissed - good moral, and lower anxiety, were restored. However the fact that my manager, being on leave, enabled me to persue this, did not help my own situation in the short term but to continue with the situation as it was would not have helped my own, let alone the general staff, well being.

Leaders and Managers need a good clear frame work in which to operate without undue anxiety. To try and legislate for every small variable decision that they may have to make in the course of their working day will only succeed in more time merely checking if the situation they are faced with complies with some rule or other. These people just like all others require a culture that enables them to use their own judgement under the authority of their organisation but as a result they will be happy to take responsibility within a common-sense legal framework. So where to next?

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Material Copyright © 2009 Alan Harmer.
Last Updated June 2016