The central challenge facing managers and leaders in the modern workplace is knowing when to act and execute, and when to step back and reflect. They also need to be able to enrol others to help - to collaborate - and have a well-attuned understanding of the context in which they are working. Finally, they need to hone their rational or analytic side in order to make sense of the volume of data available to them.
These five ways to interpret and approach the world were first proposed by Henry Mintzberg and Jonathan Gosling as the five key mind-sets that managers need to integrate on a deep level if they want to be effective. GSB programmes are designed to help you gain mastery of each of these mind-sets during the course of your leadership journey. We understand that at various points in your career, you will need to engage at different levels of intensity with each of them, and that this is a lifetime’s work. Individual courses therefore place a different emphasis on each mind-set, giving you ample opportunity to absorb and integrate material, thereby allowing you to build your unique management framework to optimally inform your personal journey.
The ability to reflect is critical to personal success, and to be able to recognise and learn from your own feelings and reactions, offers a valuable opportunity for growth. For reflection, the subject is the self; there can be no insight without self-knowledge. As Mintzeberg and Gosling put it: “Organisations may not need “mirror people,” who see in everything only reflections of their own behaviour. But neither do they need “window people,” who cannot see beyond the images in front of them. They need managers who see both ways—in a sense, ones who look out the window at dawn, to see through their own reflections to the awakening world outside.”
The analytical mind-set focuses on managing organisations. Mintzberg and Gosling say that you simply can’t get organised without analysis, especially in a large company, and that good analysis provides a language for organising; it allows people to share an understanding of what is driving their efforts and it provides measures for performance. But managers also need to guard against over-analysis, which can mire organisations in inaction. Successful managers are able to get beyond conventional approaches to analysis in order to appreciate how analysis works and what effect it has on the organisation.
Beyond the organisation lies the rest of the world. The worldly mind-set is about managing context - the worlds around the organisation. A good manager needs to be able to get into worlds beyond their own and to understand other people’s circumstances, habits, and cultures. This means – literally - getting out of our offices and spending time where products are produced, customers served, and environments threatened. We need to learn to ground ourselves in the world around us. It is a known entity that companies perform better when they take account of local consequences not just overall economic performance.
Collaboration takes the manager beyond the self, into their network of relationships. Management is less about managing people than it is about managing the relationships between people by engaging with them. Effective managers establish the structures, conditions and attitudes through which things get done. This requires a collaborative mind-set.
The action mind-set pulls everything together through the process of change—in self, relationships, organisation, and context. An action mind set is about developing a sense of the terrain and guiding everyone along that course. If change is to be successful, it has to blend with collaboration and reflection. We have to be reflectively collaborative as well as analytically worldly if we are to accomplish effective change. This is how the five mind-sets are interconnected.
Leadership is not a state – it’s a journey, and at the GSB, it’s a journey we understand.
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