October 18; The Practice of Management Is Not The Practice of Perfection
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Ten: Deciding 18 October

She brings him good,

not harm

all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31:12

The Practice of Management Is Not The Practice of Perfection

Risk

Nancy did perfect work all the time.

It drove me crazy. It had to stop.

Nancy was a manager who supervised other nurses. She was a perfectionist who would not tolerant any error. Her personal motto, she would tell me, was “First, do no harm” reflecting the medical Hippocratic Oath. This demand for precision is a condition of employment as a caregiver and individual contributor.

It is fatal in a manager.

***

Women in management have many of the same challenges as their male counter parts. Women, however, have more problems in facing risk.

Using original research from Charmaine’s work on The Family Gender Tenure Project at the University of Virginia, and our work in the management of women, and management by women we evaluate the structural differences in the leadership effectiveness of women.

My interest in women in management began in the late 80’s when I hired and trained advanced practice nurses to teach new clinical procedures in a medical device start-up. These women were thought and opinion leaders, decision makers and key influencers.

They were perfect for my sales and marketing plans.

But as I managed the accounts, I noticed that these women managed differently. I attempted to manage numbers. The women managed behaviors.

I took chances. They took none.

And this was most appropriate. I was a sales guy: taking a risk and making a mistake might result in the loss of a few bucks. I took calculated bets.

Not the women. The nurse managers worked to eliminate risks. If this was baseball, they would be satisfied only with batting a 1000. Failure for them was not the loss of income, but the loss of a patient; loss of life.

The female-nurse-manager was the best combination of gender-profession-responsibility. No hospital patient wants a risk-taking care-taker. But the challenge for women is that this same risk-averse mental wiring is less suited for other professions and other practices.

Women bring to management an inherent ability, it seems, to manage a number of simultaneous projects, distractions, interruptions, and relationships. Women love noisy bazaars.

Men prefer caves. Preferably with a monster plasma screen tuned to ESPN, the sports channel. (And don’t bother me when the game is on.)

Women as managers also seem to have a natural ability to, well, nurture relationships, which both hinders and helps – especially in supervising men and children. Female managers report little difference in managing the two.

Also, women often see confidence in men as a con-game. And in some cases, they might just be right. But most often, this is not men being criminally deceitful or Enron-like; men merely understand the difference between knowledge and skills, and abilities – the ability to network and to project persuasion. Men will assume power even when they don’t have it. Women make no assumptions.

For men, confidence is often simply an act as part of a game. For women this looks like a confidence-game-scam where crooks color outside the lines. Women will use different and, dare we say, authentic skills.

***

I was concerned that Nancy did perfect work overseeing her staff. It was that she took too much time; her reports to me were always late; she was always late. And we were both learning (management is a practice). We came to understand that the difference was that a nurse manages a person’s health. Nurse managers manage people.  Nancy would come (slowly) to understand that managing people required different skills than managing patients.

She didn’t have to be perfect.

She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life. Proverbs 31:12

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