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‘Management Is 10% Work And 90% People’

Source | | Victor Lipman

Or is it? That’s an interesting way to put it.

The headline above was on my mind because of a note from a former colleague I received yesterday on LinkedIn. I’d recently written an article examining the role of empathy in management – How Important Is Empathy To Successful Management? – and he sent me this thoughtful comment:

“Great article. I once worked for a fantastic effective leader, who when I joined her organization shared her secret to success and said, ‘Remember, it’s only 10% work and 90% people.'”

The management balance

I’d be curious to know what others think about this “10/90” idea.

My own take? Management requires balance, to be sure. No doubt you need technical expertise (the 10% “work” component). Without the ability to demonstrate a solid level of competence in the field you’re managing, you may well lack “street cred,” which can impede your management success. You need the respect of those you manage, and part of that is earned by how well you know your business – whatever that may be.

But on the other hand you also need the “people” element, since management of course at its core is all about accomplishing work through others. Other people, that is. Not other cattle, dogs, cats or horses. But it does require a consistent level of working with other humans… collaborating, motivating, plain old forming productive working relationships. And making those humans willing to come back day after day and do the same thing all over again.

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