About 30 years ago now, and after 14 years of experience as a CEO, I was asked to teach a course in management at Boston University. Reflecting upon my experience at that time, I developed a set of nine management principles and, with good humor, named them The Dann Principles of Management. I remembered the list a few days ago and decided to go on a search for it. It took some digging (they were developed pre-computer), but I finally unearthed it.
Some of the principles still hold very true, some I would modify based on what I have learned since then, and I absolutely would add to the list were I starting anew today. In this issue, let me preview them in brief and then I will revisit each one in more detail in future blog posts.
The Dann Principles of Management
- There is another side to every issue. I found it helpful in trying to get to agreements with others to try to understand and honor their point of view. Truth is self-defined and not a universal.
- What is, is. It is not helpful to deny what exists right now; to dismiss it as temporary and thus unimportant. The only hope of solving something is seeing it for what it is, rather than what you wish it to be.
- There are politics in everything and everybody. Politics (def. the often internally conflicting interrelationships among people in a society) are inherent in human groups. Who is in favor? Who is in charge? Who did what to whom? You have to consider politics in any strategy you employ.
- Over time, employees will only work as hard as their ultimate leader and/or lowest performer among supervisory or even peer group. There are several points here really. To be successful as a “boss” or leader, you have to be willing to work as hard as you expect others to. Secondly, a group will often bring down a peak performer to their level or make life uncomfortable for him/her.
- An organization is only as great, and its employees only as committed to the organizational goals, as they interpret the leader to be. My clients know that I often talk about “integrity being the currency of leadership”. If you aren’t what you profess to be or don’t do what you mandate that others do, you will fail.
- Nobody really likes to get away with anything. Virtually everyone knows when they have done something wrong or failed to do what is right. They will try to get away with it, deny it, etc. in some cases. But, it is my experience that when they do get away with it, respect for leadership declines. As a leader, you gain nothing from giving them a break.
- Consistency. Whenever possible, only take a course of action with an employee if you can honestly answer that you would make the same decision for any other employee when presented with the same set of circumstances. Self-explanatory. It’s that integrity thing again.
- An organization values its employees only to the extent and depth that it maintains two way dialogue with them. Studies consistently show how highly employees value this. It is how they measure their worth to the organization. Not important for me to know? My opinion not important? Both killers of morale.
- Everyone will find fairness somehow. The history of the union movement is what this is all about. Over time, if you are taking advantage of your workforce or are “out exchange” with them, it will come back to haunt you. More on this one later.
OK, that’s the 1982 list. We’ll explore each of these and their relevance today in upcoming posts. My take: they have stood the test of time pretty well, and I still see them extant in organizations every day.
Let’s hear from you
I’m interested in your opinion on these and whether they ring true for you. What did I miss? What are examples others can learn from? Share your ideas by e-mailing us, and they will be featured in future posts.