Each of us as a manager enjoys aspects of our roles where we feel more comfortable, with others we’d rather have someone else handle. But the more senior and cross-functional we become the more we need to reach adequacy all round.
And yet very few of us ever expand our comfort zones to take us from the necessary to the sufficient. So which are these different aspects?
I was recently exposed to a categorisation of the needed components that I found made a lot of sense. It is based on the work by Ichak Adizes, the founder of the Adizes Institute, and the four roles he identified that management must fulfill are the Provider, whose voice tells us “Just get the job done, nothing else matters”; the Administrator, who wants us to “Follow the rules, pay attention to the details, and heed the process”; the Entrepreneur, who wants to “Make it exciting, creative, provocative”; and the Integrator, who helps us “Create harmony and respect the social norms, while making people happy”.
In every organisation all four must be performed well. And yet, Prof Adizes has observed, none of us can or does reach the highest levels of competence in the complete quartet. Indeed being really strong in one makes it more unlikely that we’ll do so well elsewhere – or even get on well with those who do.
If a person is unable to perform one or more roles the deficit must be filled by others. If they perform all roles to at least a satisfactory level, they’re an OK manager.
If a manager copes brilliantly with integration and at least one more role, and all other roles are performed at a satisfactory level, we can say that the person is not just a manager, but a leader.
And if all the roles are well covered among the management members, then we have a high performing team.
The book I read by Prof Adizes was Leading the Leaders – How to Enrich Your Style of Management and Handle People Whose Style Is Different from Yours”, one of 20 authored by him. I also completed the Adizes Institute’s Management Style Indicator” questionnaire, where the profile of me that emerged came as no surprise.
My top style is that of Integrator, then Entrepreneur, followed by Producer, with Administrator lagging quite far behind. So I am described as a “PaEI”, with capital letters for the styles where I am at ease.
I’m sure that as you have been reading this you will have been reflecting on how you rate on each of Prof Adizes’ four components of management, even without taking the assessment questionnaire. And you will also have been smiling (and groaning) as you have been contemplating your peers, your superiors and your subordinates.
You will have concluded who complements whom; and who clashes with whom, thanks to the incompatibility of their over-focused styles.
You will also have noted which teams cover all four components well, and which find the going tough thanks to too many individualistic entrepreneurs and no integrators, say.
So where are the gaps, at the personal and team levels, and how to fill them? For such gaps are everywhere, and the higher we rise in an organisation the more of a handicap they become. What’s your next career step, and the ones thereafter? What muscles will you need to develop that till now were not so important to enable you to perform well?
Too often it’s the most brilliant techie (a Producer) who’s promoted to becoming the supervisor of other techies (as an Integrator) but lacks the personality, skills, or even interest, to play such a role.
They never developed the non-technical skills needed for management – or for interacting with team-mates, customers etc. – to complement their technical ones. Do they have the potential to transform an “i” into an “I”?
Who does your organisation seek and attract among the P, A, E, I types? Do you look for those with more than one capital letter, so they can develop a career with you, beyond the immediate job for which they are being recruited?
We are always going to feel more at ease with some of the four styles than with others. But be very aware of what each job requires, and either reach adequacy wherever that is needed, or make sure there’s someone else in the team to play that role.