Good Leadership

A big event took place today under my leadership. Four hours. Over 300 people. They didn’t come all at once but in batches, but still. We had representatives of various organizations and programs. Food (we even had sushi), games, henna tattoos, Mexican jewelry-making, a Chinese calligraphy table, a French table with a large light-up Eiffel 🗼Tower, African musical instruments, and a group of wooden matryoshkas.

The event was perfectly organized, which means that I had to do absolutely nothing. A good leader is the one who sets things up so that they function automatically. The leader’s job is strategy, not tactics. Things will only work if you don’t micromanage people.

My job is to do big things for our program. Yesterday, I had a meeting where the budget for the next academic year was decided. I battled ferociously and managed to drag away a large piece of meat in the form of funding for everything I wanted to save and even for a couple of new things. I wouldn’t have time or energy for these battles if I got hung up on ironing out the details of tasks that other people can do perfectly well.

If you are ever in a managerial role, please, please remember never to do anything that others can. Concentrate on the stuff that only you can do.

Micromanagement and an incapacity to leave people alone to do their thing is one of the main causes of organizational dysfunction. Tomorrow I’m going to resign from the executive board of an organization where I have worked for years because we have a new president – a young, eager, early-career person – who decided to micromanage me. This tells me that the organization will soon fall apart and I should get out fast.

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