Good Managers

April 30, 2009

Henry Mintzberg contends that management is not taught in school, rather learned through experience.  He says that American business got into trouble with the idea that business grads from top tier schools are ready to lead. 

I know little of Mintzberg’s work, so this may be a false argument.  I agree that an MBA does not a manager make.  I’ve lived through that. 

I also agree that experience is important, but it’s not a sure thing either.  I’ve known far too many experienced, but poor managers.

In my experience, good managers share a common set of attributes.  They’re honest, open to feedback, in tune with reality, great observers, good systems thinkers and creative.  Weakness in any of these areas create blind spots.  Experience helps people with these attributes improve over time, because they learn from their mistakes and will zero in on things that matter. 

If I were on a Board of Directors I would look for experienced managers with these attributes to run my businesses.

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