Roland Dürre
Sunday September 8th, 2013

Entrepreneur’s Diary #90 – The Magic Management Triangle

At InterFace alone, I have now had thirty years to think about what exactly I am doing and what is my job. How to describe my job and what qualities you should have for it? And whether I am doing a good or a bad job in my position.

Because I am a manager.

Well, basically, I am a project manager, because my professional (and private) life consists of many projects. In these projects, I am sometimes more and sometimes less involved. But they always concern me in some way or other. Sometimes I initiate projects or try to direct them. Sometimes I delegate the responsibility. Occasionally, I also have to terminate them. But I am always involved. Even if it is only the results that are returned to me.

And during those many years, my view and understanding of management constantly developed. Sometimes it was a zig-zag line, yet as the years went by, the lines converged. Many friends, teachers, masters and mentors accompanied me on the way – and they helped me a lot. Consequently, I was able to write a lot about management, leadership, entrepreneurship and all other topics that move me (also in the IF blog). Also, I was able to give numerous presentations, particularly for young people.

This is how my small and totally private management model was created. I defined it as a triangle. To be sure, I could also have come up with a more multi-dimensional definition, but the number three has the advantage that our finite brain actually can manage three dimensions quite reasonably. Consequently, a model with three bases is probably easier to understand.

The three dimensions of my management model are:

  • operative issues
  • leadership and
  • entrepreneurship.

Let me describe my concept of these three dimensions:

  • Operative Issues

    As I see it, the operative issues are about what is “self-evident” about the job of a manager. They are about the daily routine of decisions on the technological, mercantile or personal levels. A good technological education, common sense, the ability to judge quickly and such kind of things are useful and sometimes necessary. A certain degree of intelligence, a healthy ability to accept conflicts, a suitable socializing process and the like are desirable. A bit of an extrovert personality and self-esteem are helpful. It is a huge advantage if you have courage and can share what joy you have. The same is true for a positive communicative competence, both by word of mouth and in the written form. Besides, a good general education, or at least the ability and willingness to learn something new and alien will do no harm to an operative manager.
  • Leading and Leadership

    Leading and leadership are two wonderful words. For me, the first and most important factor is that you are capable of leading yourself, i.e. to develop your own “leadership”. After this is achieved, you might perhaps be able to share some of your leadership capacity with others, thereby trying to “lead them” (careful: the very terminology is offensive). 
As I see it, “leading” requires a certain degree of humility towards the task and the people in the “social system” you are active in and surrounded by.
    Here are some of the qualities that turn an operative “functionary” into a leadership personality:
    being able to listen, having a healthy degree of empathy, embodying and living values as a person (both your own and those of the enterprise), accepting criticism, being critical with yourself and being immune against too many set statements, certainties or even dogmata; in other words, you have to have a certain amount of autonomy.
  • Entrepreneurship
    In my opinion, a leader becomes an “Entrepreneur” if he is also willing to accept a special responsibility. For me, this means that the person will put himself beyond all randomness. He will “identify” with all “matters” concerning the enterprise in a healthy way. This means a commitment to actively participate, including the courage and willingness to change things. It necessitates a high readiness to take responsibility even on the normative level, thereby making you the protagonist for the promotion of the entrepreneurial values and culture.
You can only achieve this if you, as an entrepreneur, are no longer pushed by having to say “I MUST” and/or by a strong “Super-Ego”. Instead, you have to have achieved a huge degree of inner freedom. This is how you will eventually be enabled to question all those established “worlds” every system seems to have developed without criticism. And again and again, you will ask the philosophic core questions: “How do you know this” or “How do you know this is the truth?”.

Because the mental concepts of the worlds as developed in social systems such as enterprises are, after all, just an attempt at mirroring reality. In the worst but most frequent case, they will become doctrines or dogmata.
So if now the manager or leader tries to deduce decisions with “dominant logics” from the established world, these decisions will, of course, only too often turn out to be the wrong decisions. To be sure, even with correct logics, you can deduce correct things from erroneous assumptions. But that is mostly accidental. As a general rule, it will not happen.
Basically, it is a very human desire to strive towards stable judgement. After all, they make life easier for the manager – but often with terrible consequences.
I would name the qualities of an entrepreneur “agile competence”. For instance, a “top manager” fully competent in the operative issues and at the same time being a leading personality and entrepreneur, should be particularly good at adequately dealing with “errors and coincidence”.

On the whole, I think management means you have to be particularly good with combining the opposing ends of the individual and collective worlds (of the social system). Because the expectations, interests and needs of persons in the diverse social systems are basically very different from those of the social system. Yet the manager has to deal both with the persons and the social systems. He has to bring them together.

It all sounds like an almost super-human challenge. Since there are no super-humans, there are probably no persons who actually meet the ideal I just described. Consequently, there is no need to be ashamed of your own imperfection.

That means we should not despair too much when we discover the occasional shortcoming or fault in ourselves. But we can take this list of criteria to see how far we have already advanced towards being “Top Managers” – or if, perhaps, we are still on the level of “operative manager”. Or maybe we are already on our way to the leadership personality? And we can see what could be done in order to get better.

Wel l- this is my current view of things.

(Translated by EG)

For all the articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

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