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Humanism and the Leader-Manager Job Published: Sunday, August 23, 1998 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

We can now talk about Vaill`s five broad principles that should suffuse any degree or training program that aims to be about leading and managing organizations. A strong argument can easily be made that these five principles apply to every program element, no matter how narrow, technical, broad and philosophical they are, and if the instructor or facilitator don`t work to keep these principles present for the learner, he should not be permitted to continue.

The first principle is that of Preserving the Sense of Wholeness of the Leader-Manager Task. Every school or program should be clear about its body of knowledge as a system of interrelated elements and disciplines. In other words, any serious educational venture should have a philosophy, a point of view about the leader- manager job.

The second principle relates to Preserving the Time or the Process Quality of the Leader-Manager Job. Time and process are relatively neglected aspects of the educational experiences of leaders-managers, yet people in these jobs are fundamentally building organizational capabilities and relationships through time. No wonder many organizations and their key actors have some much difficulty understanding the meaning of partnering as an essential undertaking of leader - manager task. After all, there is a difference in awareness of the organizational culture between a person who has had six months in a job and one with ten years in it. We know that follow-up is an important quality for the manager, and that a vision may require years of effort to bring to fruition. The point is that implementing any course of action calls for a feel for timing and pacing and that this feel is often what balance the tendency for instant gratification or short-term results.

The third principle is about Preserving Feeling in the Leader-Manager Job. This has to do with having respect for people and the ability to work effectively with them. This is what the great theorist Chester Barnard meant when he said that management abilities were matters of feeling, judgement, sense, proportion, balance and appropriateness. These qualities go beyond having logical reasons for actions and behaviors.

The fourth principle is about Preserving Initiative (Entrepreneurialism) in the Leader-Manager Job. The profound lesson here is that real initiators are not merely presiding over the organization and they are not just facilitating other`s pursuit of objectives. In reality they should be shaping and structuring the organization and its members toward objectives that are felt as desirable values. Objectives have to be personally desirable values, for otherwise they will be managed by frigid professionals.

Finally, there is the most important principle of Preserving Humanism in the Leader-Manager Performance. This means that the leader-manager is a moral agent trying to do good for others… yes, trying to do good for others. Education and training for leadership and management is about knowledge, but also about values and the postmodern pursuit of the ancient dream of the good. If not we become victims of the law of least morality, which says that, the moral level of any group will sink to the level of the least moral member.

 


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