LeadU presents Successful vs. Effective Real Managers


Successful vs. Effective Real Managers

Years ago, I ran into this research by Fred Luthans, PhD

Successful vs. Effective Real Managers

The Academy of Management Executive (1987-1989)
Vol. 2, No. 2 (May, 1988), pp. 127-132
Published by: Academy of Management Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4164814


Rather than searching for technological, governmental, or economic solutions to the performance problems facing today’s organizations, maybe it is time to take a closer look at managers’ day-to-day activities.

Instead of taking a normative view of what managers should do or examining a small group of elite managers, this article draws from the results recently reported in a book on an observational study that used a large sample of what are called "real managers" — managers from all levels of large and small mainstream organizations.

After first covering what real managers do (the four activities of traditional management, communication, human resource management, and networking), Luthans examines the important, but heretofore ignored, distinction between successful and effective real managers.

Successful real managers are on a relatively fast promotion track (an index of level over tenure). Effective real managers have satisfied and committed subordinates who perceive quality and quantity performance in their unit (a combined index using standardized questionnaire measures of satisfaction, commitment, and performance).

A comparative analysis of the activities of the successful versus the effective real managers reveals little similarity between the two. Successful managers give relatively more attention to networking (socializing, politicking, and interacting with outsiders) than their unsuccessful counterparts and give relatively little attention to human resource management activities (motivating/reinforcing, managing conflict, staffing, and training/development).

In stark contrast, however, effective managers give by far the most relative attention and effort to communicating (exchanging information and processing paperwork) and human resource management activities and the least to networking.

Although Luthans’ conclusions about successful vs. effective managers are bound by the definitions and method of study and analysis used, their implications for today’s organizations are nevertheless revealing and interesting and can perhaps begin to explain why there are problems. Luthans concludes by discussing these implications and providing some guidelines on how organizations can most effectively respond to them.

Over the years I have been reminded time after time, that who gets the worm, is not who you would think… and with the recent advent of the Rules For Radicals —> even when it’s running filters for conventional reasons — there is even more pronounced effect of what makes successful (or not) leaders.

My thoughts today prompted me to draw this incredible distinction with Obama and Romney.

For whomever you are for, these two prototypical “managers” are poster children for Luthans’ Study.

I won’t go into a political diatribe, but one has to be careful to match the success requirements with scaffolding and the resources. If you believe the USA will be better off with a Successful Manager, or an Effective Real Leader — a case can be made for either — the choice is as clear as night and day in this election season of 2012.

The STARKNESS of the contrast is valuable here as as we look at what are the success requirements…  for the success of our country @F-L-O-W…?


Of course not, and this is a great time to make my point about the difference between BS and @F-L-O-W —> In BS, it’s important to keep Success Requirements muddled so the emphasis stays on the changing climate… 

Success Requirements @F-L-O-W MUST BE CLARIFIED in order to understand the gap, so we don’t look at having to change, but to scaffold… This is a key attribution that occurs among Successful vs. Effective Real Managers.

If I keep you focused on the politics, and the networks, rather than what is real success, I won’t lose… and YOU can’t win.

Helpful Hint: Successful manager is defined by speed of promotion within an organization. The success index is calculated by dividing manager’s level to his/her length of service.

Effective manager is defined in terms of
1) Getting the job done through high quantity and quality standards of performance, and
2) Getting job done through people which requires their satisfaction and commitment.

Managers who are successful (that is, rapidly promoted) may be astute politicians, they are not necessarily effective. Indeed, the so-called successful managers may be the ones who do not in fact take care of people and get high performance from their units.

Action Step: In order to understand this model, it’s clear that Success Requirements have to be clarified, which actually prevents someone from using only one group of a portfolio of KSEs required for resolving the tension between Success Requirements and Happiness. Notice who comes to mind when you look for managers who you thought successful and/or effective.

If you have any comments, questions, suggestions, or need some additional help, please use the form below to submit them.  Someone will get back to you within 48 hours. 

    We hope you pick up valuable insights, ideas, and tools during this process, which you can use for your own development as well as your work and leadership with others.

    You, Me, and We @F-L-O-W

    Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting, coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and contributing… to helping people have lives.

    Mike R. Jay
    Leadership University

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