Sunday, February 13, 2011

Management Stories # 13 - Should the Manager just extract work?

The story goes that sometime, close to a battlefield over 150 years ago, a man in civilian clothes mounted on a horse, rode past a small group of exhausted battle-weary soldiers digging an obviously important defensive position.

The section leader, making no effort to help, was shouting orders, threatening punishment if the work was not completed within the hour.

"Why are you are not helping?" asked the stranger on horseback.

"I am in charge. The men do as I tell them," said the section leader, adding, "Help them yourself if you feel strongly about it."

To the section leader's surprise the stranger dismounted and helped the men until the job was finished.

Before leaving the stranger congratulated the men for their work, and approached the puzzled section leader.

"You should notify top command next time your rank prevents you from supporting your men - and I will provide a more permanent solution," said the stranger.

Up close, the section leader now recognized General Washington, and also the lesson he'd just been taught.


Clearly, this happened decades before the debate on whether Management is just the art of getting things done by people, or with people.. and the solution which will appeal to all, is clearly embedded in this incident.

End of the day, we must all remember that we are first a human being and then only a manager or colleague. Reiterating this in mind always will help to have your feet firmly on the ground.

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