The Working Leader: The Triumph of High Performance Over Conventional Management Principles
The recent emphasis on "core competencies" and "operating capabilities" as keys to competitive advantage represents a radical shift away from the presumption that business leadership is primarily about strategic decisions. Corporate success, Sayles insists, now depends upon execution, implementation, and expertise. In the past managers presumed that work systems were programmed to be efficient; now astute managers recognize that extraordinary efforts are required to attain and maintain effective operations.
Sayles shows with vivid case studies how middle managers with an in-depth understanding of the organization can resolve the inherent contradictions and ambiguities among design, sales, and manufacturing. He also shows that while many companies are instilling "customer consciousness" and "quality consciousness" as compartmentalized activities, "effective" management of work systems automatically leads to high performance in quality, efficiency, and service. By facilitating high performance, hands on working leaders can increase the sense of responsibility and motivation of subordinates. Finding solutions to inconsistencies and dilemmas in work systems forces managers to become real leaders. Checking the interfaces and making modifications where necessary -- managing on the boundaries -- are core competencies for the working leader.
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