When did Management Become a 4-Letter Word?

So much has been written and spoken the past few years about “Be a leader, not a manager!”

I have seen and heard a couple of hundred articles, posts and videos related to the demise, denigration, and negativity of management, management systems and managers.

Why? What has happened to cause managers and management to receive so much disdain? I consider this a destructive trend – actually harmful to anyone who is or aspires to be a leader.

I’ve owned several businesses over the past 30 years. These have employed over 1,000 people in total. I can state that 50% of my actions as an owner have been as a leader, and 50% as a manager/executive.

Leadership and management go hand-in-glove.

To be a truly effective and inspirational leader, an individual must ALSO be a skilled manager and executive.

To be an effective and successful executive, an individual must ALSO be a good leader.

Leadership and management are two sides of the same coin. They cannot be separated.

Leadership without good management skills is like a Ferrari without a skilled driver.

Yes, there are terrible managers. Yes, there are nonsensical and ineffective management systems that have been paraded through the business world for the past 100 years. Yes, there are as many wrong ideas about management as there are people in the world.

Yet none of these should be a reason to think there is no need for skilled, effective managers/executives and management systems. There is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater just because there have been so many bad managers and systems over the years.

Good, skilled management and management systems are necessary for success in any venture – business or otherwise. Without this, any organization will fail.

There IS such a thing as a right way to manage. The first step is a proper definition of management. I offer my own definition:

i)  the art, science, knowledge, skills, decisions, and actions of achieving the goals of the organization – effectively and efficiently – by skillfully directing and coordinating its people and resources; and

ii)  taking all actions necessary to apply the ingredients and elements to success, so as to produce a profitable, efficient and healthy organization.

There is nothing negative or demeaning in this definition. In fact, these actions and end results are the entire reason to conduct any venture in the first place.


Joe Kerner
Joe Kerner
Joe Kerner has been a business owner and management consultant for 30 years. He has worked with hundreds of businesses, business owners and executives, spanning several industries and professions. He is a recognized expert in such areas as leadership, management, organizational development, efficiency, personnel development and training, sales training and business planning. He has helped his client business increase their profitability, growth, efficiency, and productivity. He has consulted and coached businesses in such industries as health care, software development, biotech, construction, financial services, scientific instrument firms, systems analysis, travel, hospitals, and insurance. Joe is also an accomplished speaker and has delivered over 1,100 seminars and workshops covering such areas as leadership and management, operations, personnel development, and efficiency. In 1998, Joe was a co-founder of a very successful health care group in Virginia and North Carolina. He served as Vice President of Operations and managed the entire group. Under his leadership, this group increased revenue by 300-400% within three years. This group was sold for a high profit in 2013. Joe holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He has also completed an extensive and rigorous management training program, the Organization Executive Course. This is an intensive 2,000-hour curriculum covering the fundamental principles, technology and advanced systems of management, leadership, organization, executive training, personnel development and management, management tools, marketing, and sales.

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  1. I believe the keys to erasing the 4 letter word of management are pretty simple:
    Be a servant leader
    On board only people who buy into your company vision and culture
    Continually re-enforce the culture and vision
    Have your team members backs
    Cut out the politics
    Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
    Listen and Hear what your people are saying
    Keep your door open
    Make sure they are allowed to think,,, I always had a sign on my office door it said “don’t come to me with a problem unless you have a solution. ( I made them think and it worked 100% of the time) I had less than 1% turnover
    Always practice the phrase “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”

    Just saying what worked for me as a senior executive ina 2000 team member company