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Monday, October 6, 2014

The Future of Management: Intensely Personal

I treat my work with a raging passion: "What is this, the Boston Tea Party?"
You'd think so from the intensity with which I move puzzle pieces around. Hoping it will all fit faster, better, more impressively than any other machine ever made before.
The same goes for people I work with on a project. No, they're not my family family. But for the period of time I work with a person, they fit into a very specific kind of Google+ circle. For better or for worse they are my work family, and as such they deserve both interaction and trust.
I never believed in the old-fashioned organization model. Stone-faced cavemen versus other stone-faced cavemen, competing cryptically over weapons or words.
It's not a grand elaborate theory: I'm just not a gifted or sly politician. I never got the games that people play.
What I do know is equations, and that good ones lead to results.
Here are a few:
  • Vision + communication = engagement.
  • Engagement + empowerment = results.
  • Honesty + humor = results arrive faster.
Engagement is how you sell things to people.
It's how you make them want to do work that would otherwise be incredibly boring.
It's how you motivate an otherwise sane individual to stay up all night working on a project - because they want to support and even impress "their" team.
The traditional model of work is just the opposite. It's the legacy of the most basic sexism, really: Men attempting to edge each other off a cliff, in the process shielding all but the most incredibly necessary information.
We can't afford that nonsense anymore nowadays.
We've got no time to spare. Our work depends on quick-thinking mental responses.
If we don't work together in a really good way, we cannot get stuff done.
Women know how to adapt their emotions to the situation more deftly than men do. This is not because of biological difference necessarily - it's the legacy of how women have survived for millennia.
Unequal and dependent, we did not get into the wrestling ring and fight, raised fists, directly.
Rather, we competed in subtle ways for the attention, affection and protection of the fighters.
"Women's ways" are the term for a range of emotional skills aimed at eliciting trust, which leads to information.
It's only superficially about the way a person looks.
Fact is, anyone of any gender with any level of sex appeal can be extremely engaging.
The key is what's on the inside. A focus on the other person. The actual ability to erase one's own identity entirely for a time, and laser in on what they think and want.
Engagement is not the same as being a whore or a bootlicker. Anyone can show up, nod along, and do what they're told.
No. Skill is to read emotions of the other accurately, then telegraph back the exact response that will drive the behavior one is looking for.
There are fancy interdisciplinary terms for engagement. One could say it as though it were a course description:
"Readings for this class will encompass leadership, management, organizational development, employee communications, marketing and of course many branding and technology tools."
But at the end of the day it's about recognizing one simple principle.
People face an existential crisis every moment they breathe. We are spiritual beings forced to live in a human form for a time. Cut off from our ultimate source of connection - yes, that is the Divine.
Seeking solace we crave the like-minded companionship of others, particularly those who will help us achieve our true life's mission.
One should never confuse one's true loved ones with the job of engaging the customer. 
But at the same time one must understand that tech is a nearly worthless commodity, when compared with giving sustenance through emotional life support.
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Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Photo by Daniel via Flickr.