ONCE there was a bright young man who was looking for an effective manager.
He wanted to work for one. He wanted to become one.
His search had taken him over many years to the far corners of the world.
He had been in small towns and in the capitals of powerful nations.
He had spoken with many managers: with government administrators and military officers, construction superintendents and corporate executives, university presidents and shop foremen, utility supervisors and foundation directors, with the managers of shops and stores, of restaurants, banks and hotels, with men and women – young and old.
He had gone into every kind of office, large and small, luxurious and sparse, with windows and without.
He was beginning to see the full spectrum of how people manage people.
But he wasn’t always pleased with what he saw.
He had seen many “tough” managers whose organizations seemed to win while their people lost.
Some of their superiors thought they were good managers.
Many of their subordinates thought otherwise.
As the man sat in each of these “tough people’s” offices, he asked, “What kind of a manager would you say you are?”
Their answers varied only slightly.
“I’m an autocratic manager – I keep on top of the situation,” he was told. “A bottom-line manager.” “Hard-nosed.” “Realistic.” “Profit-minded.”
He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in results.
The man also met many “nice” managers whose people seemed to win while their organizations lost.
Some of the people who reported to them thought they were good managers.
Those to whom they reported had their doubts.
As the man sat and listened to these “nice” people answer the same question, he heard,
“I’m a democratic
manager.” “Participative.” “Supportive.” “Considerate.” “Humanistic.”
He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in people.
But he was disturbed.
It was as though most managers in the world were primarily interested either in results or in people.
The managers who were interested in results often seemed to be labeled “autocratic,” while the managers interested in people were often labeled “democratic.”
The young man thought each of these managers – the “tough” autocrat and the “nice” democrat – were only partially effective. “It’s like being half a manager,” he thought.
He returned home tired and discouraged.
He might have given up his search long ago, but he had one great advantage. He knew exactly what he was looking for.
“Effective managers,” he thought, “manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the organization and the people profit from their presence.”
The young man had looked everywhere for an effective manager but had found only a few. The few he did find would not share their secrets with him. He began to think maybe he would never find out what really made an effective manager tick.
Then he began hearing marvelous stories about a special manager who lived, ironically, in a nearby town. He heard that people liked to work for this man and that they produced great results together. The young man wondered if the stories were really true and, if so, whether this manager would be willing to share his secrets with him.
Curious, he telephoned the special manager’s secretary for an appointment. The secretary put him through immediately.
The young man asked this special manager when he could see him. He heard, “Any time this week is fine, except Wednesday morning. You pick the time.”