Management

I became involved in management very early in my working life and have retained this interest throughout my life, not least as a management consultant.

The first book I read about management, Peter Drucker’s The practice of management, had a profound effect on me, in part because he saw a manager as serving those for whom he was responsible, an idea with which I was familiar as a Christian (Mk 10:42–45). Over the years, I became aware of how many of those who pretended to understand how to manage people actually understood very little about how to get the best out of people.

This initial understanding of the nature of good management was reinforced by my increasing interest in gender issues and the realisation that much management ‘theory’ was, as a colleague said, all about ‘massaging male egos’ and nothing to do with enabling people to gain any pleasure out of what they were doing, let alone achieve anything at work.

During the 1990s, after I had become a management consultant, I encountered various writers who reinforced what I had grown to appreciate as the features of good management and introduced me to some more with which I was not acquainted. Theories of management documents my journey of understanding.

Among these were W. Edwards Deming and Ricardo Semler but Geert Hofstede was also very useful in helping me to understand the cultural context and the ‘appreciative systems’ which inhibit acceptance in England of ideas from abroad, in particular those that suggest that women may on the whole be slightly better managers than men. Of course, one reason for this is that most English male managers do not see themselves, as Jesus did, as serving those for whom they are responsible.

Rather they have been seduced either by a discredited theory of management from the 1930s which postulated that leadership qualities were inbred and you simply needed to identify those who have them or the theory that management is a skill that can be taught, as espoused by numerous university Departments of Management.