Fireman or red director. How to evaluate a top manager

September 3, 2019 1:22 pm

Denys Denysenko, СЕO Productoff eCompany, MBA alumnus of Edinburgh Business School. The article is based on the author’s text on HB.Business portal.  

In Ukraine, crisis management is common. And the majority are firemen in general.

Once I had an employee with whom at some point we stopped working. When he left, he was unhappy – I was the initiator of the break. And he said to me: “You can never let anything out of your hands. Do you want to keep abreast in all areas of the company. ” And I replied: “Yes, that is exactly what I heading to.”

Universal hero

About ten years ago, a semantic interpretation of the role of manager began. If previously a manager was considered exclusively from the perspective of a communicator, manager, today the manager is already becoming a multidisciplinary specialist. An effective manager must understand finances, HR, be a strategist, be technology-open, understand innovations.

In Ukraine, in my opinion, there is a perverse approach to the targeted expectations of TOPs functions. We are used to thinking that a top manager should have specialization in a certain field. In fact, an effective and professional manager does not require this. 2-3 months of adaptation are enough for him or her to understand the operation of the whole mechanism.

Legacy of Red Directors

Leaders say they will work with the strategy, communicate with shareholders, cut ribbons and that’s all – such an approach is in the past. Today, the manager is ready to stand behind the counter, spend a day in the warehouse or sit in the accountant department. This is necessary to understand the processes, see the problems and solve them. This, of course, does not cancel strategic work, communication with shareholders, consumers, etc.

At the same time, it will not work without delegation. And the issue of delegation is always very closely connected with the issue of control and monitoring. Ideally, the system should be built in such a way that it controls itself. And delegation does not exclude that you should know a question. But not only from a position from above, but also from the side, from below – from all sides.

Even when I was a student, I studied in Donetsk, we had a subject that many considered unnecessary – a technology system. We studied it for 4 semesters. And throughout each, they delved us deeper into agricultural technologies, then mines, then metallurgy, and then the chemical industry.

Personally, this knowledge in life has helped me a lot. For example, because I understood how gasoline is obtained from oil or what is the production cycle in agriculture, how it should be financed. If there was an opportunity now, I would go back and study different technologies more deeper.

How to evaluate a manager?

Simply. There are two types of management: the first type is aimed at the result, the second – at maintaining the company. The first approach is closer to crisis management: there is a goal and it needs to be achieved. If the manager succeeds, he/she is effective. In the second case, we can give an analogy with the machine. The car rides and rides well. The manager is required to support this.

In Ukraine, crisis management is more common. And the majority are firefighters in general. The image of the classic Ukrainian manager has basically evolved – cars, watches on his hand, and suits have changed. But in the minds this evolution did not happen. We both fought the fire and continue to do so. And progressive management is proactive. This is when we try to build a system in such a way that fires are avoided, and not extinguished in fact.

What to do to become a manager?

First get a bachelor’s degree. Next – manage your own projects for several years. And after that, go to get a master’s degree. My personal opinion is that a business school and MBA will not hurt. Will it be decisive? Not always. We can meet many TOPs that have no education. Henry Ford, for example. But that was once. We live for the future. Are you so stupid you can’t get an MBA? Such a question must be put before any person.

The advantage of business education is that the MBA at Edinburgh Business School allowed me to sort things out. Obtaining MBA degree, I realized that 99% of the decisions and actions of the manager are described in textbooks. It is only possible to invent a wheel by 1%. But in business schools, you need to stop teaching on the example of successful cases, and pay attention to fails. After all, success is individual, and mistakes are typical.

No one in the starting position has experience. We are all the same. Only diligence, desire, hard work is rewarded in this world. And this is only 50%. The rest is the will of heaven, chance or good luck.

A good manager is created by own abilities, skills and experience. But even if you do not have any specific unique abilities, this does not close the doors for you.

Team game?

The role of the team in business is one of the most basic. Whatever we do, nothing will come of it without a team of like-minded people. The team should be a kind of mafia, connected by a common goal. Because the team can act as a driver of the project, or it can destroy it into parts. Everything happened during my life practice.

In any business, there is a leader. We feel the leader’s footprint, for example, at Apple. There is no Steve Jobs, but spiritually he is the inspirer and ideologist of the company to this day.

Philosophical question

Not all people can be TOPs. And the biggest obstacle, the one that is quite often invisible, is the level of responsibility that a person is ready to take upon himself. Therefore, I believe that a true manager is first of all an entrepreneur who is ready to risk everything.

Empathy and emotional intelligence are coming to the fore today. One reason is that they are not replaced by artificial intelligence. The fact that tomorrow we will be replaced by robots, and many people will remain on the street – this is most likely true. But no one will replace the managerial decisions that are associated with a particular company. We cannot register all processes and algorithms. The manager’s decision remains, leader is responsible for it. And also TOPs will be needed because the work of a manager is also to create. You always think up something.

Whatever project you try to implement, you will always encounter failure. There is no direct path to success. Barriers will need to be overcome with losses: moral, physical, financial. In such situations it is impossible to do without faith. In general, the philosophy of today’s management says: “The harmony of chaos is order.”