Successful vs. Effective Real Managers

Luthans, Fred
May 1988
Academy of Management Executive (08963789);May1988, Vol. 2 Issue 2, p127
Academic Journal
Rather than searching for technological, governmental, or economic solutions to the performance problems facing today's organizations, maybe it is time to take a closer look at managers' day-to-day activities. Instead of taking a normative view of what managers should do or examining a small group of elite managers, this article draws from the results recently reported in a book on an observational study that used a large sample of what are called "real managers" - managers from all levels of large and small mainstream organizations. After first covering what real managers do (the four activities of traditional management, communication, human resource management, and networking), Luthans examines the important, but heretofore ignored, distinction between successful and effective real managers. Successful real managers are on a relatively fast promotion track (an index of level over tenure). Effective real managers have satisfied and committed subordinates who perceive quality and quantity performance in their unit (a combined index using standardized questionnaire measures of satisfaction, commitment, and performance). A comparative analysis of the activities of the successful versus the effective real managers reveals little similarity between the two. Successful managers give relatively more attention to networking (socializing, politicking, and interacting with outsiders) than their unsuccessful counterparts and give relatively little attention to human resource management activities (motivating/reinforcing, managing conflict, staffing, and training/development). In stark contrast, however, effective managers give by far the most relative attention and effort to communicating (exchanging information and processing paperwork) and human resource management activities and the least to networking. Although Luthans' conclusions about successful vs. effective managers are bound by the definitions and method of study and analysis used, Their implications for...


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