Interview to Henry Mintzberg: Management, leadership and collaboration
During the Strategic Management Conference held in Houston last October, I had the opportunity to interview Henry Mintzberg, the business management expert. I am sharing in this post how he sees management and leadership today.
To read it en Español, haz Click Aquí.
While studying for my Business Management Bachelor Degree in Argentina, Minztberg was one of the first experts that I got to know about. I still have my note book with the 10 different management roles in organizations based on Mintzberg teachings.
Henry Mintzberg is a Canadian academic and author on business and management. He is currently Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he has been teaching since 1968.
- So tell me about business today, what do you think about entrepreneurship nowadays?
“I have more faith on entrepreneurial business than on big companies. Sometimes stock market make big companies lose sight of the market and the customer. Entrepreneurs start with the product and the customer. Steve jobs was obsessed with the product Just like Google or Amazon they are different animals, they never lose focus of the product.”
- How is leadership doing?
“Leadership needs to change. I think leadership is important but heroic leadership is destructive. Especially in large business, leaders usually screw up. Leaders should earn their leadership, like Steve Jobs. Managers earn their way up to the organizational ladder but they not necessarily earn their leadership, they don’t necessarily know how to manage people. And they appoint the same kind of people, who are impressive but not necessarily good managers.
They are not attuned to what is going in the business, they don’t live and breath and care about the details, they are managers at a broader level. I think that management and leadership, the two have to go together. Nobody wants to be managed by someone that has no leadership qualities, but nobody should be led by someone who has no management qualities, because they don’t know what is going on. Management is about what is going on. We need to talk more about management”.
- So leadership would have more to do with motivating people and Management is about telling them what to do?
“NO, management is some about tell them what to do, but is basically about knowing what’s going on, about keeping the flow, keeping the pace, it is about getting informed, being on the ground, it is about catching problems before they are big problems. You cannot separate them”.
Management is about knowing what is going on.
Collaboration and team commitment is always at the center of how Biztorming does consulting. We not only provide ideas, but we also look forward to train employees to bring their own ideas, because they are on the ground, what we call “the gemba” in japanese or bottom-up collaboration.
- I have read in your latest articles that are you very much interested on collaboration in the sharing economy. You talked about improving bottom-up collaboration, how do you do that?
“You have to take advantage of the capabilities that people have an engage them. They know what is going on, they see it they do it, they meet the customers, they sell the products, they design the products. They are on the ground. And managers have to connect with that, in a real world, not just for showing off.”
- In your book you talked about bottom-up solutions
“You don’t make people provide solutions, people make it naturally if they care. Listening is a major skill of managers. You don’t make people do it, you provide them with the conditions, the infrastructure and the enthusiasm to do it. If they know they are being listened to, then they want to come up with ideas they want to help. Nobody wants to go to work and not care. It is a waste of time. You are getting paid, but it is nicer if you care, and it is nicer if people care about you. And it is simply about using all the talent that people have.
Ikea, for example, sells unassembled furniture. You can take it home in your car, that’s’ the idea. They save money and you save money, it’s cheaper so it’s better for you. And you have to go to the warehouse you buy it, which usually you cannot get to the warehouse anywhere. Do you know where the idea came from to sell the furniture unassembled? A worker tried to put a table in his car and didn’t fit, so he had to take the legs off. So somebody said, if we have to take legs off probably our customers too. That’s right on the ground.”
I was thrilled that Henry Minztberg would talk about Bottom-up solutions, we truly believe it helps companies to be more effective. Bottom-up solutions means that people, no matter their task or position, they will come with different ways of doing things if you are giving them the chance to do it. You just need to find the right way to train them to be able to realize when something needs to be changed. On the other hand you also need to train leadership to be open to those ideas. It is a two-way flow that companies need to be effective at managing: Bottom-up solutions and top-down listening.
You may be interested on our Leadership course
There is still more to share about Henry Mintzberg on the next post about care and healthcare.
Thanks a lot Henry Minztberg for your input on Management, Leadership and Collaboration! You can follow him at @Mintzberg141
Founder & Director Biztorming Training & Consulting