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hapter 9: LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT SKILLS IN PUBLIC ORGANIZATION

Book Reference: Robert B. Denhardt, Janet V. Denhardt, and Tara A. Blanc (2014). Public Administration: An

Action Orientation. 7th edition. USA: Wadsworth.

All the ideas and approaches we have examined are helpful in understanding what is going on in public and nonprofit management. But putting those ideas into practice requires the ability to lead and work effectively with other people. Ideas about what leadership is, who can be a leader, and the roles that leaders serve have changed over time. While early perspectives on leadership focused on those holding top-level positions, more modern views recognize that leadership can and should be exercised at all levels of organizations. By carefully considering and constantly practicing good leadership, you can become more effective in whatever position you occupy in an organization. Effective leadership and management involve decision making, communication, self-awareness, and the ability to motivate others and manage group dynamics. It should be recognized, however, that leadership and management in practice are often complex and fluid, demanding both a strong skill set and enormous flexibility. For instance, you may be called upon to clear up a situation and take appropriate action, often within a matter of seconds. As a leader, you will necessarily and appropriately analyze and understand the situation in terms of your own approach or theory. But you will also have to act and engage with others in decision making. In doing so, you need to have the ability to influence others and to exercise power constructively and responsibly. Putting ideas into action requires that you have the ability not only to make decisions and delegate tasks but also to do so in a manner that energizes and engages others. Such decision making requires both confidence and self-awareness. Employees look to leaders not only for direction, but also for cues about how to feel about their work and their part in achieving organizational goals. Interestingly, however, success- fully exercising these leadership skills depends on several essential “personal” skills that are part of one’s social and psychological makeup. Some of these personal skills reflect your approach to the world, others have to do with your capacity for creativity or effective decision making, and still others have to do with how you deal with ambiguity or lack of clarity. For example, the manager suddenly promoted to the director- ship of a mental health department will certainly have important (and immediate) decisions to make, perhaps involving creative solutions to organizational problems left by the departing director. The new manager will also have to operate, perhaps for months, in a highly ambiguous situation.

Leadership and Power

Many commentators have argued that improved leadership is essential for us to success- fully meet the challenges of the coming century. Public opinion data reveal widespread loss of faith in the leadership of business, government, labor, and other private and public institutions. But many argue that the problem relates not merely to formal positions of power but also to a pervasive failure of leadership throughout society. Because effective leadership sometimes involves the use of power, the capacity to understand power, especially the capacity to recognize and use the resources one has available to influence others, is essential in modern organizations of all types. But power is a far narrower term than leadership. We will consider power as one aspect of the larger question of how one might develop greater skills in public leadership. Early leadership studies attempted to identify and understand the attributes of “great men.” Such approaches focused on the personal characteristics of existing or historical leaders, assuming that leaders were “born, not made.” These so-called “trait studies” were reviewed in the 1940s by Ralph Stogdill (1948), who found that although leaders do appear to possess traits that make them different from other people, there was a lack of agreement about exactly what those traits were. For example, some of the studies that to show a willingness to try, the leader should be encouraging, using high-relationship behavior. On the other hand, a person who is ready and willing to accomplish a task needs neither high-task or high-relationship behavior—in this case, the leader should just get out of the way! Stogdill reviewed found that leaders were more intelligent and active, while others found that leaders were taller and more dependable. Overall, Stogdill (1974) concluded that leaders encouraged cooperative behavior, were sensitive to others, exercised initiative, and had self-confidence. But having those traits did not necessarily mean that you would be an effective leader. Although the trait approach to leadership offered some insights, it became evident over time that it left a number of important questions unanswered. For example, beyond personal characteristics, what did leaders actually do? Why was it that the same leaders might be effective in one situation but not another? These questions led researchers to focus on the behavior of leaders and the exercise of leadership in particular contexts. One of the more important studies of leadership behavior was initiated at Ohio State University in the 1940s. Leadership was conceptualized as based on two types of behaviors. The first type was called “consideration,” which was behavior focused on relationships and concern for others. The second type was called “initiation of structure,” which was behavior aimed at task definition and completion (Bass, 1990). A similar study at the University of Michigan referred to these same sets of behaviors as “employee orientation” and “job or production orientation.” Based on these dimensions, Blake and Mouton (1964) came up with a Managerial Grid that plotted behaviors associated with production and people on a scale of 1 to 9. The ideal in their model was to be a “9.9” manager—that is, a manager with a high concern for both people and production. Other researchers began to focus on the context of leadership, trying to match different types of organizational situations with the appropriate mix of leadership behaviors. One such “situational” leadership model was developed by Hersey and Blanchard (1988). In this model, the key to assessing a situation was the readiness and ability of the follower to accomplish a particular task. For example, a person lacking in ability needs the leader to use high-task behavior to provide instruction and guidance. Then, once that person begins to show a willingness to try, the leader should be encouraging, using high-relationship behavior. On the other hand, a person who is ready and willing to accomplish a task needs neither high-task or high-relationship behavior—in this case, the leader should just get out of the way!

More contemporary perspectives on leadership embrace the idea that leadership is not just the responsibility of those in the executive suite, but can and should be exercised throughout an organization. John Gardner, the former cabinet secretary and founder of Common Cause, stated, “In this country leadership is dispersed among all the segments of society and down through all levels, and the system simply won’t work as it should unless large numbers of people throughout society are prepared to take leaderlike action to make things work at their level” (Gardner, 1987, p. ix). In this view, leadership is a pervasive phenomenon occurring in families, work groups, and businesses and at all levels of government, society, and culture. Leadership, then, should be seen not merely as a position some- one holds, but rather as something that happens in a group or organization, something that comes and goes, something that ebbs and flows as the group or organization does its work. As we have seen, modern society can be described as (1) highly turbulent, subject to sudden and dramatic shifts; (2) highly interdependent, requiring cooperation across many sectors; and (3) greatly in need of creative and integrative solutions to problems. Under such circumstances, ambiguity is increasingly a hallmark of decision making, and the involvement (rather than the control) of many individuals in group decisions will be necessary. “Leadership…will become an increasingly intricate process of multilateral brokerage, including constituencies both within and without the organization. More and more decisions will be public decisions; that is, the people they affect will insist on being heard” (Bennis, 1983, p. 16). Leadership for the future cannot be equated merely with the exercise of control by those in formal positions of power. So what do we know about leadership, especially shared or public leadership? What do we know about leadership in the increasingly common situations where no one is really “in charge”—student organizations, churches, political groups, and so on? Often, much of their work is done through committees or other even less formal groups. And those committees seem to waste a lot of time and energy, partly because of lack of leadership. Even though one person may be designated the “leader,” rarely does he or she exercise much control. Usually, things drift for a while—maybe a long while—until someone finally puts forth a suggestion that people pick up on and get excited about. At that point, we can say that someone has exercised leadership.

Somewhat more formally, then, we can define leadership as “the character of the relation- ship between the individual and a group or organization that stimulates or releases some latent energy within the group so that those involved more clearly understand their own needs, desires, interests, and potentialities and begin to work toward their fulfillment” (Denhardt & Prelgovisk, 1992, pp. 33–44). Where leadership is present, something occurs in the dynamics of the group or organization that leads to change. What is central to leadership is the capacity of the leader—whether or not he or she is called a leader—to “energize” the group.

The leader merely taps and reshapes the “consciousness” of the group. Acts of leader- ship express a new direction, but one that is determined by the emerging interests of all members of a group. We can say that someone exercises public leadership when he or she (1) helps the group or organization understand its needs and potential; (2) integrates and articulates the group’s vision; and (3) acts as a trigger or stimulus for group action. The essence of leadership, therefore, is its energizing effect. But often the people we formally refer to as leaders don’t really lead; at best, they manage things successfully by keeping the group running more or less smoothly. To energize the group, for example, the leader must know how to sense its underlying desires, sometimes even before those desires are clear to the group members themselves. The leader must also be able to act in ambiguous situations and to take risks; leadership involves change, and change is often difficult for both group and leader. Developing the personal strength to face change is important. Leadership has often been viewed in terms of the exercise of power by one person or group over another— getting people to do what one wants them to do by manipulating power and influence. Leadership in the future will be more and more independent of power, and the most critical leadership skills will be the personal (rather than interpersonal) skills associated with correctly empathizing with and “reading” a group, acting with a sense of direction in the presence of ambiguity, and having the courage to take risks when change is warranted. Sally Helgesen (1996) calls this new approach “grassroots leadership.” She argues that today’s organizations differ dramatically from those created in past generations. Power becomes shared throughout the group and, in turn, leaders “are to be found not only among those at the top, the ‘lead horses,’ but also among those who constitute what in the industrial era we called the rank and file” (p. 21). Accordingly, each individual plays a key role in shaping the organization; each helps the group deal with issues of organizational change.

In fact, although power may be an important resource to the leader, one need not exercise traditional power to bring about change (see the box “Exploring Concepts: Bases of Social Power”). Efforts to control a group are often ultimately destructive of leadership. On the other hand, when the direction of the group or organization is selected through a developmental process that gives priority to group members’ needs and desires, leader- ship is much more likely to be enduring. Leadership, in this context, relates more to sharing power among the group rather than using power for the purpose of control. So for the new knowledge-based organizations of today to be successful, greater autonomy and decision-making capacity should be distributed to the front line, with those closest to the situation serving as the leaders of change.

Perhaps most importantly, leadership is not just about doing things right, but also about doing the right things (Bennis & Nanus, 1985). Particularly in the public sector, the goals sought by leaders inevitably involve important public values. Public leaders, at all levels, must play a “transformational” role in helping people to articulate and act on shared ideals and values within the context of democratic governance. Transformational leaders understand and support the needs of followers, work with them to define and seek higher-level needs, and engage followers as whole people. “The result of transformational leadership is a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents” (Burns, 1978, p. 4). In fact, leadership in the public sector involves attention not only to the needs and values of those within the organization, but also to the values and preferences of citizens. In The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner (2007) assert that credibility is the foundation of leadership. Constituents must trust that their leader “will do as they say they will do.” They expect their leader to be honest, forward-looking, competent, and inspiring. The five practices of credible leaders are to (1) model the way, (2) inspire a shared vision, (3) challenge the process, (4) enable others to act, and (5) encourage the heart. First, leaders “model the way” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, chs. 3–4). Successful leaders understand and are able to articulate their personal values and find their unique voice; identify the shared values among their constituents; reinforce shared values through meaningful verbal and nonverbal communication, such as artifacts, symbols, metaphors, and storytelling; and act consistently with those personal and shared values. Values serve as the anchor, motivation, and compass by which individuals authentically lead their own life and guide others. From this source of authenticity, leaders “inspire a shared vision” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, chs. 5–6). A successful leader imagines the possibilities, rather than the probabili- ties, of “an ideal and unique image of the future for the common good” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p. 105). This vision is value-oriented and introduces meaning and purpose into our lives. Leaders articulate their initial vision; educate their constituents to their vision through meaningful verbal and nonverbal communication; and engage the constituents in continuous dialogue to collectively discover, clarify, and commit to the common goals of the vision. Inspiring a vision naturally requires that leaders “challenge the process,” that is, request that constituents change from the status quo (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, chs. 7–8). In Leadership on the Line, Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky (2002) argue that leadership is fundamentally concerned with adaptive challenges. As opposed to technical challenges, which require a change in the knowledge, skill, procedure, or structure of a given situation, adaptive challenges exist when social conflict or crisis demands that the current beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of people must change in order to realize a more just and equitable collective future. Beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors inform the identity and competence of a person. When leaders move beyond their position of authority and request that people risk their identity to adaptively work toward an uncertain future, they will naturally face resistance from those people who feel discomforted by and resistant to change. Leaders and their vision constantly face the danger of being marginalized, diverted, attacked, or seduced by people who resist change. Thus, the challenge of leadership is to orchestrate conflict in a way that ennobles people and engages them in adaptive work at a rate that they can handle (Heifetz & Linsky, 2002; Helgesen, 2005). Leaders learn to build momentum on small wins. According to Heifetz and Linsky (2002), in order to manage conflict and change, leaders must continuously maintain a holistic and realistic understanding of the context of change. To appropriately evaluate and successfully orchestrate the situation, the leader must iteratively alternate between the objective vantage point of standing on “the balcony” and the subjective vantage point of acting on the stage. The balcony allows the leader to view and assess the entire stage in order to (a) distinguish the adaptive from the technical challenges; (b) attentively listen to and interpret the underpinnings of the words and behaviors of various actors to gain an understanding and appreciation of their perceived risks, fears, and conflicts; and (c) assess the reaction of the authority figure(s), such as the director, for clues that indicate the cast’s level of tolerance for change (Heifetz & Linsky, 2002, ch. 3). With a holistic and realistic understanding of the situation, a leader returns to the stage to partake in the production and to “enable others to act” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, chs. 9–10). That is, a leader must empower constituents to mobilize and engage in adaptive work. Empowerment acknowledges that power is expandable and reinforcing and that it originates from sources such as talents, knowledge, experience, ideas, personal relationships, and personal authority (Helgesen, 2005; Kouzes & Posner, 2007). Leaders empower their constituents when they provide them with the competence and confidence to assume the control and responsibility needed to collaboratively work toward a shared vision. Leaders “become more powerful when [they] give [their] own power away” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p. 251). Finally, according to Kouzes and Posner, leaders “encourage the heart”—that is, they appeal to the passions of their followers and their emotional commitments so that there are not only rational reasons for following, but followers have a deeper although more abstract commitment to the leader’s path. Leaders persuade others not only by appeals to the “head,” but also by appeals to the “heart.” A new approach to understanding leadership is to consider leadership as an art. This view opens the possibility that both music and leadership shape and are shaped by similar patterns of human experience and human energy, that the best leaders display a certain “musicality” that distinguishes them from others, and that actual artistic expressions, skillfully facilitated, can be employed to tap and evoke significant aspects of the leadership experience and help to unveil its mysteries. What do transformational leaders do that causes others to follow? Denhardt and Denhardt (2006) argue that the best leaders connect with us emotionally in a way that energizes us and moves us to act. Transformational leadership engages others in a very special way, touching elements of desire, commitment, and possibility that are deeply seated in the inner lives of potential followers. Leaders facilitate a reshaping of human energy, restructuring the narratives of human experience and bringing alive a new progression of possibilities, even in spite of ambiguity, complexity, and uncertainty. Interestingly, this is similar to the role of music in our lives. Music connects with us emotionally, communicating a certain energy that resonates with one or another emotional state.

It touches us physically, emotionally, even spiritually and primes us for what might be called a feeling-based exploration of our personal condition. In this way, music relaxes us, assures us, con- soles us, inspires us, excites us, or calms us as its rhythms and harmonies interact with our own. In a very real way, we are moved from wherever we might have been to a new condition, noticeably more in tune with something we value, and definitely a couple of notches removed from any of our default states. The music’s progressions and transitions—its changes in harmony, melody, and rhythm—become progressions and transitions in our own feeling states, and, indeed, over time we are primed for analogous progressions in other aspects of our lives, more or less at ease with complexity, dissonance, ambiguity, dramatic emotion, and more. It’s easy to think of music as a metaphor for leadership. For example, many have illustrated leadership by referring to the role of an orchestra conductor or the leader of a jazz ensemble. On this point, Denhardt (1993) argues that leaders are rarely able to write and conduct a “symphony” that others play. More often they are called on to be fully integrated into the performance themselves, to play along with others, like the leader of a jazz ensemble improvising a tune. “By establishing the theme, the leader of the ensemble…can chart the basic pattern and direction in which the performance will move. By setting the tone and the tempo, the leader gives focus to the spirit and energy of the group. By modeling effective and responsible performance in their own solos, leaders can energize and articulate the performance of others. But it is the performance of others that is critical” (pp. 180–181). More importantly, leaders confront many of the same issues faced by musicians and do so in ways that go beyond metaphorical parallels. For example, leaders, like musicians, are concerned with rhythm and timing, and leaders can learn a great deal about rhythm and timing from musicians. We understand that groups and organizations have rhythmic patterns that organize the experiences of those in the group. We understand the different cycles of group life and the varying pace at which different groups work. Many have experienced what hap- pens when a group accustomed to a particular rhythm in its work gets a new “boss,” someone with a completely different rhythm, typically resulting in chaos and frustration. And there is the matter of improvisation: leaders, like musicians, often improvise (though they rarely think of their work in this way), and they can certainly learn the basics of improvisation from musicians (see Denhardt & Denhardt, 2006). In all these ways leadership might be considered an art rather than a science (Cimino & Denhardt, forthcoming).

Communication

All the good ideas in the world are worth very little if they cannot be shared with others. Communication is the basis for setting goals, engaging others, and ensuring cooperation. Hales (1986) found that between two-thirds and four-fifths of a manager’s day is spent giving or receiving information, and that most of this giving and receiving takes place in face-to-face interactions. In fact, the ability to communicate well is necessary for any adult to function successfully in virtually any role in American society. Early research showed that, on the average, adult Americans spent 70 percent of the waking day in some form of communication activity (Rankin, 1929): 9 percent of the time was spent writing, 16 percent reading, 30 percent speaking, and 45 percent listening. In the following sections we will discuss the communication modes of listening, speaking, and writing. (We will not address reading, except to note that the special skill known as “speed reading” is probably one a manager might find useful.)

Listening

We spend more time in listening than in any other form of communication. Recent research focusing exclusively on managers reveals that managers spend a greater-than-average portion of their time listening—about 63 percent of a typical day. But doing a lot of listening does not mean that managers listen well. Listening is not the same as hearing, and although hearing cannot be altered without medical or technical intervention, one can substantially improve the quality of one’s listening with proper motivation and training. Let us first review some basics of effective listening (see the box “Take Action: Principles of Effective Listening”).

Have a Reason or Purpose

This is the most important principle of those we will discuss. Having a purpose or a reason to listen provides the motivation to listen, and, generally speaking, you will do things you are motivated to do better than if you are not motivated. Listening is no exception. One must be motivated to listen well; it does not just happen. Without motivation, you will not use the other six principles, or you will not use them as well as you could. But, you ask, what if I don’t have a reason to listen? In such cases, it is a good idea to actively search for a reason to listen to what is being said. Ask yourself, “How can this information help me do my job better?” or “How can I use this information in some way, on the job or elsewhere?” Finding a reason to listen will provide the motivation to use all the other principles and techniques.

Suspend Judgment Initially

The key word in this phrase is “initially.” You will obviously need to evaluate the material you listen to, but you should wait until you hear the entire message before you begin the evaluation. This can be difficult. In an election year, for example, if we know a particular candidate’s party, we are likely to evaluate what the candidate is going to say before he or she even begins speaking. It is not coincidental that television and radio advertising for many candidates does not prominently identify the candidate’s party. The advertisers want to increase the chances of having the message heard rather than losing half the audience immediately by identifying the speaker as a Democrat or a Republican. To make a judgment before listening carefully to what some- one is saying is the opposite of the “suspension” principle.

Resist Distractions

Many things can distract us when we are trying to listen. The “dis- traction” principle tells us to fight back, to actively resist whatever may be distracting us. Among the many things that distract us, various sounds are usually the most powerful. The sound may be a nonverbal noise, such as the siren from a passing fire engine or ambulance; the voices of several people speaking at once; or something about the way the speaker talks. Regardless of what type of sound is creating the distraction, the remedy is to resist, to try harder. In this case, “trying harder” means that you should increase your concentration. If you are in a face-to-face situation with a speaker, make sure you maintain constant eye contact. You can also lean a little bit in the direction of the speaker. By increasing your level of concentration, you can resist distractions you would have thought impossible to overcome. And that is the problem with distractions—they become an excuse for not even trying to listen because “it’s impossible to hear what she’s saying.” A common classroom demonstration in listening skills illustrates the “distraction” principle (as well as others). Two volunteers are positioned in front of the class, about fifteen feet away from each other. Each reads aloud a brief paragraph (that only takes thirty to forty seconds to read). Each student in the class is assigned to listen to one or the other of the volunteers, but not to both. The students are instructed not to take notes while the paragraphs are being read, but at the end of the reading they are to write down something about each of the major points in the paragraph they listened to. The trick is that the volunteers not only read different paragraphs, but they read them simultaneously! After the first round of the exercise usually only a small number, and sometimes none, of the students in the class are able to write down something about every major point their speaker read.

The instructor then reviews the eye contact and leaning points, picks two new volunteers, gives them two new paragraphs, and repeats the exercise. The second time around it is not unusual to find that 20 percent to 25 percent of the class has written down something about each major point. This exercise demonstrates that there is variability in the quality of listening, both between and within individuals. It also shows that it is possible to resist even a major distraction, that our ability to resist distractions is much higher than we realize, and that we can overcome a great deal to improve the quality of our listening. Some distractions are less obvious and are perceived only semiconsciously. One such distraction for many Americans is listening to English spoken with a foreign accent or with a different regional accent. In a personal conversation, Professor Allen Bluedorn told of learning this in a listening course that he took while he was in the U.S. Army. Bluedorn wondered if he had been using people’s accents as an excuse not to listen to them. (He was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, and frequently heard English spoken with a Spanish accent.) He tested his theory by concentrating harder the next time he conversed with someone with a Spanish accent. To his surprise, he found that he clearly understood everything the person said. He concluded that he had indeed been succumbing to the dis- traction of the accent, and it had become an excuse not to listen well. This lesson is important in today’s increasingly multicultural organizations, where English is often spoken with a wide variety of accents. But the larger and more important lesson is that even substantial distractions can be overcome.

Wait before Responding T

The “response” principle suggests that one relax and wait for natural opportunities to speak instead of jumping into the conversation immediately. When we are burning to contribute to a discussion, we may get so excited about what we want to say (as soon as we get the chance) that we don’t listen to the person who is speaking. Instead, we can wait for a natural opportunity to contribute and try to flow with the conversation as an event rather than interrupting.

Rephrase What You Listen To in Your Own Words

The “rephrasing” principle suggests an incredibly simple, yet powerful, way to check one’s understanding. The idea is merely to take something you hear (an opinion, instructions, and so on) and put it into your own words. You then repeat it to the person who gave you the information and ask if that is what was meant. As easy as it seems, this is an excellent way to check understanding and avoid mistakes. When you give instructions, you can ask the person who is receiving them to do the same thing. You can say, for example, “I’m not sure I explained that very well. Please tell me what you got out of that.”

Seek the Important Themes

The “thematic” principle indicates that the main ideas are more important than facts—so important that they are the general keys to understanding and retaining what is said. Understanding the main ideas provides a framework for organizing the facts, which makes the facts themselves easier to remember. The man usually credited with starting the listening movement over thirty years ago, Ralph Nichols, demonstrated this point in his research (Nichols & Stevens, 1957). He dis- covered that A and B students reported different listening habits than C and D students.

In surveys of hundreds of students, he discovered that the A and B students gave a much different response to the question “What do you listen for first when you attend a lecture?” than did the C and D students. The A and B students predominantly gave a response like “I listen for the main ideas first,” whereas C and D students said, “I listen for the facts.” (This finding probably does not entirely explain the differences in these students’ GPAs, but it is undoubtedly part of it.)

Use the Thinking-Speaking Differential to Reflect and Find Meaning

The “meaning” principle reflects the fact that people think faster than they speak. Although it varies by region, people in the United States speak at a rate of about 150 words per minute, but in terms of language, they think at a rate of about 500 words per minute. Thus, we normally think more than three times faster than we speak. This differential creates an opportunity to listen more effectively, but the opportunity can also be a temptation to do things that interfere with our listening. The extra time can also be used for things that distract from the listening process—concentration lapses, daydreaming, thinking about something other than what the speaker is saying, and so forth. All of these can interfere with good listening, so extra time can be a two-edged sword—both opportunity and temptation. Listening is both the most widely used and most widely misused communication skill. It is also the skill least often taught in the American education system at all levels (Steil, Barker, & Watson, 1983).

Speaking

Most of the speaking that managers do is informal, in one-on-one or small-group communications in their offices, on the phone, and in meetings. To demonstrate how we can improve our speaking, we will focus on giving instructions, because a significant amount of manager-initiated communication consists of giving instructions to others. The managerial activity of delegation, in fact, would be virtually impossible without being able to properly give instructions. The key to doing so successfully is the ability to put yourself in the position of the person who is getting the instructions. Ideally, you want to give exactly the right amount of information—neither too much nor too little. (If one must depart from the ideal, however, it is usually better to give too much rather than too little.) The following two questions can help you put yourself in the position of the individual to whom you are giving the instructions:

1. What does the person need to know to carry out the instructions?

2. What does the person want to know to carry out the instructions?

The ability to decide what information is necessary is, incidentally, a justification for promoting from within—making managers out of those who have done the jobs they will be managing. People who have done the job should be able to determine more accurately what their subordinates need to know when they receive instructions. Unfortunately, not everyone who is promoted to the management level takes full advantage of this knowledge. To demonstrate how difficult it is to identify what information to transmit, we’ll look at another classroom exercise on how you can put yourself in the position of the person who will be receiving the instructions. Students form pairs, and one member of each pair is given a diagram. The students are seated back to back, and the one with the diagram gives the other one instructions for drawing the diagram on a piece of paper. Only the instruction giver is allowed to speak and may not look at the partner’s drawing. After the drawing is completed, it is evaluated with a set of scoring rules. The partners then switch roles, a new diagram is used, and verbal instructions are again given to draw the diagram. It has been found that the scores in the second round are usually higher than those in the first, even if the second diagram is more complex. Why? The answer seems to be that the instruction giver in the second round has been in the position of receiving instructions already and thus has a better idea of what information is really helpful. Furthermore, the instruction givers during the second round know the scoring rules and can focus on what elements of the diagrams will be scored when the copies are evaluated. Most important, however, the instruction giver who understands what information someone needs is better able to provide that information.

Writing

Writing is a less common form of managerial communication than speaking and listening, but it is important nevertheless. Most managerial writing is brief, often one or two pages. The memo is the most common type of written communication for many managers. Sussman and Deep (1984) offer six rules for effective managerial writing that they call the “Six Cs.”

1. Clarity.Tobeclear,onemustputoneselfinthereader’sposition—muchastheinstruction giver must put himself or herself in the receiver’s position. Write in the active voice (such as, Dave painted the house) rather than the passive (such as, The house was painted by Dave); avoid jargon; and try to use the simple format of introduction, body, and conclusion.

2. Courtesy. Courtesy involves knowing your readers, adapting to their moods, and writing at their level, providing neither too much nor too little information. Again, there are clear parallels with instruction giving.

3. Conciseness. This is the rule of brevity: be short and to the point. Sometimes you may want to repeat something for emphasis, but the general rule is, the shorter the bet- ter. Think of it this way: which are you more likely to read—a fifty-word memo or a ten-page report? You are likely to read the fifty-word memo on the spot; the ten-page report goes into the “when I get a chance” pile.

4. Confidence. Always write with confidence. Confidence is really a matter of the writer’s judgment, based on one’s knowledge of one’s readers. Judgment is especially important in avoiding two extremes: overbearing (too confident) and wishy-washy (not confident enough).

5. Correctness.Youmustbecorrectinfollowingthetechnicalrulesofwriting:grammar, composition, spelling, and punctuation. Inaccurate spelling is especially conspicuous.

6. Conversational tone. To achieve a conversational tone, write the way you talk, and try to imagine one specific person to whom you are writing. Thinking of a specific individual rather than an abstract category makes it much easier to write. (It is much easier to write to John Jones than to “all economics professors.”) Occasionally, conversational writing calls for violating some formal rules of grammar, but this breach can make things smoother, more understandable, and easier to follow.

Communication will affect nearly every aspect of your work as a public manager. Your ability to persuade others of your position, your clarity in sharing ideas, and your ability to deal effectively with difficult people will shape your image as an administrator (see the box “Take Action: Secret Weapons for Organizational Communication”). Fortunately, you can improve your ability to listen, to speak, and to write. Practicing your communication skills whenever possible will pay dividends in every career.

Delegation and Motivation

Management can be defined as “the process of getting things done through others.” To get things done through others, it is necessary to communicate with others and, often, to motivate them as well. Much of the time, those “others” are the people you supervise. After all, if you can do all the work yourself, you should just go ahead and do it. As a manager, however, you are not there to do the actual work but to do the managerial work.

Delegation

Delegation is the process of assigning tasks to others. Like so many other managerial tasks, it may be done poorly or it may be done well. Poor delegation can be nearly fatal.

To delegate well, you need to try to delegate an equal amount of authority and responsibility for a job. Authority is the legitimate power to do the job, and responsibility is the accountability the individual has to you for getting the job done. The idea that an individual should have equal amounts of both is the parity principle. Managers often complain that they will be held responsible for something but have not been given enough authority to get the job done. Less frequent, but equally troublesome, is an individual who has authority but is not held responsible for its use. Generally speaking, you should delegate jobs with complete and clear instructions, and you should delegate tasks to the appropriate level. Holding everything else equal, the appropriate level is the lowest level in the hierarchy where the task can be accomplished competently. You should also provide support for the delegated tasks. This support can take many forms, including delegation of authority in a public statement (such as saying at a meeting, “Betty is in charge of inspections in the northern district now”). It is often helpful to involve subordinates in the process of delegation, encouraging them to make suggestions about the kind of work they can or should be doing. Delegation should be a two-way process. On the other hand, do not fall victim to the upward delegation phenomenon. Upward delegation occurs when subordinates bring problems to their managers that the subordinates should be solving themselves. This is the opposite of effective delegation, and you should refuse to take on such problems. An effective technique is to insist that any subordinate who wants advice about an issue (the way the upward delegation attempt is often presented) should first think of at least one potential solution before coming to you to discuss it. To allow for creativity and motivation in the delegation process, it is best to hold subordinates accountable for results and leave the “how” up to them. This principle assumes, of course, that the “how” will be within the constraints of legal and ethical behavior as well as the constraints of public or organizational policies. Finally, tasks should be delegated consistently when the workload is light as well as heavy and when the jobs are fun as well as unpleasant. Besides getting things done through others, delegation helps to develop employees, thereby making them more valuable to you and to the organization. Some managers are threatened by the idea that they may be developing possible replacements (that is, competitors). But there is another way to look at this situation. Unless you are at the very top of the organization, you probably want to be promoted. But you cannot be promoted if you cannot be replaced. Developing your subordinates through delegation is a way of pro- viding, to your advantage, your own potential replacements!

Decision- Making Processes

In any discussion of change within an organization, the issue of decision-making is not far below the surface. In order to make changes, decisions must be made. This micro lecture will examine decision-making and issues in the decision-making process.

Decisions can be grouped in two main categories:

1. programmed – The problem has a relatively structured solution which is based on standard methods. If the standard method is not successful, often problem solvers will resort to methods, which worked in previous situations. These alternative approaches involve hueristics, or rules of thumb, which correspond to previous experiences in which an alternative solution worked.

2. nonprogrammed – Nonprogrammed decisions deal with problems for which there are no “standard” methods, policies or rules. Solutions to these problems call for innovative measures or unusual application of rules and policies. Sometimes finding a solution means looking at the problem “backwards” or “inside-out.” How a problem is perceived is sometimes a key to finding a solution.

Managers make decisions alone, but more often as a member of a group. These circumstances favor what I characterize as group decision-thinking/making; hereafter, use of the term decision-thinking in the group context includes decision-thinking. When a problem requires a mix of expertise (economics, organizational theory, industrial relations, etc), or has multiple parts that can be addressed by a division of labor, use of group consensus also expedites the group’s acceptance of the decision by soliciting a range of ideas. Frequently, group decision thinking-making leads to higher quality solutions. Personalities and capabilities may enhance (or hinder) decision-making contingent upon the organizational culture. Some cultures encourage group problem-solving conditioned on the amount of time available.  Group decision-making may take relatively more time than individual decision-making (Gordon, 1996).

Change within an organization does not always come about through generally accepted practices. Examining decision-making as a process is a means of identifying the steps that go into decision-making.  However, without taking into consideration the “cultural” characteristics of the organization can have delirious and unanticipated consequences. Each organization is unique, and hence, approaches decision-making in different ways. Decision-making and the decision-making process can be described by means of models. For the purposes of our discussion, we will examine two important models of decision-making: the rational model and Herbert Simon’s “bounded rationality” model.

Models of decision-making

Rational Decision-Making Model. This model stems from the logical-positivists who operate from cause-effect relationships that are predicated on the notion that given the facts the decision can be logically deduced.

The rational decision-making process consists of six steps:

1.  Analyze the situation – Determine the nature of the problem.

2. Set objectives -Identify the characteristics and components of the desired state.

3.  Search for alternatives – Identify ways in which the desired state could be attained.

4.  Evaluate alternatives – Appraise each alternative in terms of cost/benefit.

5.  Make the decision -Choose one of the alternatives, or a combination of two or more alternatives and decide on the action to be taken.

6.  Evaluate the decision – After a specified length of time has elapsed, review the decision to determine if the course of action chose achieved the desired state.

The rational model, despite its thoroughness, presumes that decision-makers have the time and resources to examine a wide range of alternatives. Modern managers in the public, private and independent (nonprofit) sectors, rarely have the time or the staff to investigate a wide range of alternatives. They need to have the problem solved in a quick and cost-effective manner.

Bounded Rationality

Herbert Simon won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in decision-making models. Simon contends that organizations control behavior by virtue of controlling the premises on which organizational decisions are made. Rather than search for the optimal alternative, the manager attempts to “satisfice” by searching for an alternative that is satisfactory in terms of conditions that prevail and the organization’s purposes as he understands them (Gordon,1996). The model is termed “bounded rationality” because humans do not have the capacity to process unlimited information, nor the resources in terms of time and labor to garner all the information relevant to the issue under consideration. Simon subscribes to the basic approach of the rational model, but streamlines the process. How does a manager go about “satisficing”? The steps in Simon’s model are:

1. Identify the problem.

2. Design possible solutions by developing and analyzing alternative courses of action and identify which alternatives are available for implementation.

3. Decision-maker chooses a solution from among several available alternatives,with the knowledge that time/staffing and financial constraints preclude examination of all alternatives.

The manager or decision-maker understands that the decision is not necessarily optimal, but is a satisfactory or acceptable decision contingent upon the amount of resources available. Simon contends that organizations control behavior by virtue of controlling the premises on which organizational decisions are made.

Criteria of decision effectiveness

Once a decision has been made, how can a manager tell if it was the “right”one? The following criteria can be used to determine if the decision was effective:

· quality -Results in the desired outcomes while meeting relevant criteria and constraints such as efficiency (cost/outputs);

· timeliness – Make decisions within an acceptable timeframe;

· acceptance – Do those affected by the decision understand it? Accept it? Can implement it?

· ethical appropriateness – Does the decision meet the criteria of ethical justness? A decision maker’s understanding of ethical justness emerges from personal, moral or societal codes of values (Gordon,1996).

Decision- Making Processes

In any discussion of change within an organization, the issue of decision-making is not far below the surface. In order to make changes, decisions must be made. This micro lecture will examine decision-making and issues in the decision-making process.

Decisions can be grouped in two main categories:

1. programmed – The problem has a relatively structured solution which is based on standard methods. If the standard method is not successful, often problem solvers will resort to methods, which worked in previous situations. These alternative approaches involve hueristics, or rules of thumb, which correspond to previous experiences in which an alternative solution worked.

2. nonprogrammed – Nonprogrammed decisions deal with problems for which there are no “standard” methods, policies or rules. Solutions to these problems call for innovative measures or unusual application of rules and policies. Sometimes finding a solution means looking at the problem “backwards” or “inside-out.” How a problem is perceived is sometimes a key to finding a solution.

Managers make decisions alone, but more often as a member of a group. These circumstances favor what I characterize as group decision-thinking/making; hereafter, use of the term decision-thinking in the group context includes decision-thinking. When a problem requires a mix of expertise (economics, organizational theory, industrial relations, etc), or has multiple parts that can be addressed by a division of labor, use of group consensus also expedites the group’s acceptance of the decision by soliciting a range of ideas. Frequently, group decision thinking-making leads to higher quality solutions. Personalities and capabilities may enhance (or hinder) decision-making contingent upon the organizational culture. Some cultures encourage group problem-solving conditioned on the amount of time available.  Group decision-making may take relatively more time than individual decision-making (Gordon, 1996).

Change within an organization does not always come about through generally accepted practices. Examining decision-making as a process is a means of identifying the steps that go into decision-making.  However, without taking into consideration the “cultural” characteristics of the organization can have delirious and unanticipated consequences. Each organization is unique, and hence, approaches decision-making in different ways. Decision-making and the decision-making process can be described by means of models. For the purposes of our discussion, we will examine two important models of decision-making: the rational model and Herbert Simon’s “bounded rationality” model.

Models of decision-making

Rational Decision-Making Model. This model stems from the logical-positivists who operate from cause-effect relationships that are predicated on the notion that given the facts the decision can be logically deduced.

The rational decision-making process consists of six steps:

1.  Analyze the situation – Determine the nature of the problem.

2. Set objectives -Identify the characteristics and components of the desired state.

3.  Search for alternatives – Identify ways in which the desired state could be attained.

4.  Evaluate alternatives – Appraise each alternative in terms of cost/benefit.

5.  Make the decision -Choose one of the alternatives, or a combination of two or more alternatives and decide on the action to be taken.

6.  Evaluate the decision – After a specified length of time has elapsed, review the decision to determine if the course of action chose achieved the desired state.

The rational model, despite its thoroughness, presumes that decision-makers have the time and resources to examine a wide range of alternatives. Modern managers in the public, private and independent (nonprofit) sectors, rarely have the time or the staff to investigate a wide range of alternatives. They need to have the problem solved in a quick and cost-effective manner.

Bounded Rationality

Herbert Simon won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in decision-making models. Simon contends that organizations control behavior by virtue of controlling the premises on which organizational decisions are made. Rather than search for the optimal alternative, the manager attempts to “satisfice” by searching for an alternative that is satisfactory in terms of conditions that prevail and the organization’s purposes as he understands them (Gordon,1996). The model is termed “bounded rationality” because humans do not have the capacity to process unlimited information, nor the resources in terms of time and labor to garner all the information relevant to the issue under consideration. Simon subscribes to the basic approach of the rational model, but streamlines the process. How does a manager go about “satisficing”? The steps in Simon’s model are:

1. Identify the problem.

2. Design possible solutions by developing and analyzing alternative courses of action and identify which alternatives are available for implementation.

3. Decision-maker chooses a solution from among several available alternatives,with the knowledge that time/staffing and financial constraints preclude examination of all alternatives.

The manager or decision-maker understands that the decision is not necessarily optimal, but is a satisfactory or acceptable decision contingent upon the amount of resources available. Simon contends that organizations control behavior by virtue of controlling the premises on which organizational decisions are made.

Criteria of decision effectiveness

Once a decision has been made, how can a manager tell if it was the “right”one? The following criteria can be used to determine if the decision was effective:

· quality -Results in the desired outcomes while meeting relevant criteria and constraints such as efficiency (cost/outputs);

· timeliness – Make decisions within an acceptable timeframe;

· acceptance – Do those affected by the decision understand it? Accept it? Can implement it?

· ethical appropriateness – Does the decision meet the criteria of ethical justness? A decision maker’s understanding of ethical justness emerges from personal, moral or societal codes of values (Gordon,1996).

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