July 13; I Want to Grow Up to be a Wise Old Man
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Seven: Power; 13 July

Gray hair is a crown of splendor;

it is attained in the way of righteousness.

Proverbs 16:31

I Want to Grow Up to be a Wise Old Man

A Certain Age

You got promoted into management because of your outstanding work as an individual contributor. This is, as is well known, a mistake of epic proportions. Being an expert, perfect widget maker will not make you an expert (im)perfect manager of widget makers.

So. Senior management made a ‘mistake’ in promoting you. Let us pray that you get management experience faster than the course correction in learning from your errors.

In all this mistaking-correcting-learning-experiencing you will get old too soon and smart too late, as says the old German proverb.

Hence the gray hair.

Henry Ford once said, “If you take all the experience and judgment of men over fifty out of the world, there wouldn’t be enough left to run it.”

To run anything, the manager needs experience and judgment. This doesn’t mean only post-fifty guy-geezers have what it takes to oversee the planet. It means that there are two necessary characteristics to lead and manage significant processes, projects, or people: past performance that provides experience and practiced judgment that provides wisdom.

Ford suggests that wisdom of the aged is the only reason to hire or promote a manager to run things.

The challenge: Most staffers think that the outstanding output they delivered as individual contributors was what got them promoted.

***

Command a keyboard or a console. But managers quickly learn that people are not commanded but persuaded and influenced.

The work of the individual contributor and the manager is different. The workplace product delivered by Individual Contributors should be designed and controlled as a commodity so that the manager can easily measure and control performance. Simplicity should be planned.

Ford, famous for the automobile assembly line and interchangeable parts, knew that, in contrast, management talent was never a commodity. Managers are not reducible, identical outputs differentiated only by price. Management talent was, and remains, unique.

No matter what your age, the emphasis for the manager buying talent in the market place — also known as hiring — should be this wisdom: The ability to think.

***

Before the manager was promoted, she more than likely punched a time clock, even if as a knowledge worker. Her time, her hours on the job had to be accounted for.

In high school Your Business Professor held a number of entry-level jobs and entered a card into a time clock as did most readers of this book. We were paid for our time, no matter if we did anything constructive or not.

A manager gets paid if she does anything or not – but she had best make something happen. As quarterback she better move the ball. She gets paid for her experience and judgment and she better exercise the power of being a manager. The military holds the unit commander responsible for all that the unit does or fails to do. This is wisdom.

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31.

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