Are you management material?The Dilbert Principle: The most ineffective workers are systematically moved to the places where they can do the least damage ― management.
If gibberish is your mother tongue, if you don’t remember people’s names and if you think employees should only schedule funerals during holidays, then you’re management material.
The Dilbert comics and the jokes that you and your friends crack behind your bosses’ backs may get chuckles, but have you ever wondered what kind of manager you’d make?
Will you be like Akio Morita, the co-founder of Sony, once described as “the engine that pulled the Japanese economy”? Or will you be forgotten?
“Our country has an abundance of unqualified managers,” observes Gong Byoung-ho, a management coach based in Seoul.
But the problem is hardly limited to Korea. Anywhere you go, you’re likely run into managers who make you question their company’s vision. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet a great manager who will inspire you to greatness.
Take the example of Park Sang-soo. When Mr. Park graduated from college and started working as a consultant in the Korean office of the Boston Consulting Group, he met a manager who “gave me a dream.” That dream led Mr. Park to recently launch his own company, Ludo Studio, a Web-based community in Korea.
Managers do a host of jobs. But, generally, they’re responsible for planning, integrating departments, finding and fixing gaps in productivity, working with other department heads and coaching and advising underlings, according to Sam Butler, a career specialist with DBM Korea.
Becoming a good manager takes work. There are several schools of management thought and each has its own buzzword describing how managers should behave: autocratic, participatory, consensual, authoritarian, promotional, persuasive, conciliatory.
The respected head of one multinational’s Korean office believes in the inverted pyramid. Normally, the staff is at bottom and the president is at top. This manager, who asked not to be named, likes to flip the pyramid upside down so he’s supporting his staff by providing the resources they need to do their work.
Choi Yeum-soon, the president of the Success Strategy Institute, which hosts Dale Carnegie programs here, likes this approach and adds that one of his best managers isn’t “just interested in teaching his staff, but supporting it.”
Mr. Choi notes that managing requires a whole new set of skills. “The higher you climb the corporate ladder, the less you focus on technical skills and the more you focus on understanding people,” he says. “That requires outstanding listening skills.”
Now that Mr. Park, the former consultant, is heading his own company, he’s putting his management philosophy into place. His goals: Have a vision and communicate it to your staff. To reach his goals, he has hired people with whom he can share and expand that vision. “It can’t be just my vision; it should be the vision of everyone I’m working with,” he explains. Mr. Park says he wants to learn from his staff, and trusts the sentiment is mutual.
Mr. Butler of DBM believes a good manager must be adaptable, consistent and have good communication and interpersonal skills. Communication includes listening, not just speaking, he says.
Mr. Gong, the management coach, believes managers must have the drive for excellence. “Next, the question is how to achieve excellence,” he says, adding that it takes insight, passion and organizational know-how.
The ability to lead is a common trait among top-notch managers. Technically speaking, though, there are differences between leadership and managerial skills, notes Mr. Choi of the Success Strategy Institute. “A manager creates and oversees a system, while leaders raise people,” he says.
In the past, executives focused on managing their departments. These days, as industries undergo rapid change, managers must be able to adapt and lead their staffs into new areas.
“I believe that good companies make good people, and that good companies can change society,” Mr. Park says.
by Joe Yong-hee