The clear-thinking manager


Management is largely making decisions;  thoroughly thinking out the pros and cons of several options.  The manager’s mind must be clear about his goals, objectives and priorities in order to make valid decisions. 

A manager’s inability to give clear and unconfused directions is one of the most common complaints of workers  in the staff level.  A flurry of mistakes can be expected if there is so much obscurity and ambivalence in the way a manager’s intention is communicated.

A manager need not be brilliant to do this task properly.  All he needs is a clear concept of his priorities, goals and targets and how he wants his staff to contribute to these goals. 

Clear thinking as a leadership requirement

Roger Falk, in The Business of Management, suggests the following steps:

1.      Manager thinks out his objectives, priorities and goals.

2.      Then he lays down clearly  the “object of the exercise,” what he is aiming at, his own and his people’s participation or contribution to the realization of these goals.

3.      Once the objective is defined, the thinking clearly quality develops.  Verbal or written instructions come forth loud and clear from the manager’s lips or pen and even if wrong actions sometimes result, subordinates know where they stand.   

4.      It is also important to know when and how to communicate and to whom.  A manager who announces a new contract before it is finally clinched, or a foreman who discloses proposed wage increases before it is finally approved, can create havoc and confusion and generate false hopes which may turn out to be duds.

By giving clear instructions, the manager keeps the confidence of those he is managing.  Without such confidence, his authority is compromised.

Some ways to develop thinking ability

Managers are advised to set aside regular time to think clearly about how to lead his organization towards desired changes.

Self-reflection can shed critical light on the manager’s assumptions, behavior, emotional reactions, decisions and impact on others. It is only from this internal place that he can begin to make changes to the pace and magnitude of the change to be implemented.

He must ask himself:  Am I too busy to think? Is everything I do tactical? Am I missing strategic opportunities or indicators that something else is needed?

He may also consider finding an objective thought partner with whom he can discuss what is going on, how he got here and what he needs to do differently. That partner should be able create an island of sanity for the manager amid the chaos and complexity.

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