The Lead Management Agenda

When we think of relationships, we usually think of friends, family members, and social acquaintances. However, relationships at work are important too. In fact, we may spend more time with co-workers, bosses, and employees than we do with our friends and family.

The branch of reality therapy that deals with work is called lead management. In lead management, Dr. Glasser adds a choice theory perspective to the management philosophy developed primarily by quality guru, Dr. W. Edwards Deming.

This article is one in a series  on agendas.
You can find the first article in the series here.

The fundamental agenda of lead management is to produce quality work. Everyone involved is asked, and expected, to do their best work. Among the goals are to develop productive workplaces filled with satisfied workers, in environments free from coercion, power struggles, and manipulation.

Does that sound good to you? Now how would that delightful workplace come to fruition?

Every workplace exists for a reason, whether it’s to make a profit or to deliver a public service. In a lead-managed organization, one role of managers is to persuade people in that workplace to direct their skills and efforts toward the goals of the organization. In other words, to develop and nurture the sense that, “We’re all in this together.”

Let’s say, for example, that the organization’s role is to provide care for people in their homes. Here are some agenda items that a manager in that type of organization could ask herself.

1. Is there a good likelihood that employees will have a long-term, rewarding future with the organization? Care-givers who believe that the organization is committed to creating a productive, satisfying workplace will be more inclined to offer the best quality care they can. They’ll want to see the organization succeed.

2. Does everybody have a reasonable opportunity to satisfy their basic needs at work? Satisfying those basic needs—belonging, power, freedom, fun—can make the difference between a workplace where everyone is motivated to produce quality work versus a workplace where it seems that no one cares.

For example, if you feel like an outsider, would you go the extra mile to make sure the job gets done right? If you feel put down and helpless, will you do your best work? A strong, vibrant workplace is one where managers recognize that great ideas can come from everyone.

3. Do you expect that everyone take responsibility for their own actions? Effective managers expect and recognize that the road to quality work is through self-evaluation, rather than inspection.

4. Finally, an effective manager knows that using coercion just makes things worse. Folks who feel manipulated might follow in the short term, but the internal resistance that develops will bite back in the long term.

If you want to learn more about lead management, take a look at Dr. Glasser’s book, “The Control Theory Manager.”  While the “control theory“ terminology is now better expressed as “choice theory,” the insights are as applicable to today’s workplaces as they were in the 1990s when the book was written.

Do you think that the best quality work is produced where people get along well and can meet their basic needs?

The next article in this series is here.
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