Management, you’re doing it wrong

Evan Leybourn Founder & CEO /Business Agility Institute

2008 was the year I first became an executive. Before then, I had run teams, projects, even my own small company! But when the opportunity arose to take a leap into something new, I took the chance and became an executive director in the Australian Public Service.

I got the job because I was a subject matter expert, because I could clearly articulate the delivery strategy, and because I was confident. But, as I quickly learnt, I wasn’t a great manager. This was my arrogance: the assumption that, based on my experience, I would be a great manager. And I am not alone. In my current role as co-founder of the Business Agility Institute, a global research and advocacy organization, I have the opportunity to speak to thousands of managers and business leaders–and I see the same pattern time and time again.

We seem to believe that management is an intrinsic skill, and that without training we all have the ability to be a great manager (if only someone would give us a chance!). No one would look at a Doctor or a Nurse or an Engineer or a Builder and think, “I can do that job!” We recognize that there is skill, training, and experience that goes into that role. Yet, we look at our boss and think “I can do that job . . . and I can probably do it better.”

In this keynote, I will share both my observations of this false journey towards management, the problems it causes inside organisations (micro-management, presenteeism, ‘hustle porn’, risk avoidance, and death by meeting), and finally what you can do about it. After all, management is a skill and, like all skills, can be learned, practiced, and improved.