Two people were crossing a forest. One was blind and the other was lame. All of a sudden there was a wildfire. Blind could not see and lame could not run. But blind could run and lame could see. They decided to use each other’s capability to escape from the fire. The lame person sat on the blind person’s back and guided him to walk safely. In the end, they managed to escape unharmed.
A manager faces a similar situation in corporate life. On one side there is urgency, escalations, complaints to handle while on the other side there is team management which should be done skillfully. A manager could be aggressive and keep pushing team members to achieve targets. Alternatively, a manager could just leave the work to team members’ capability and their management. In both scenarios, work will suffer. A manager either works through the head or heart. Each way has its advantages and disadvantages. A manager should always choose a style combining his management approach through head and heart, both. This is like the a blind and lame using each other’s capabilities to escape the fire.
The Head and heart approach is a little different from the Carrot and stick approach. The carrot in the carrot and stick approach is referred to as rewards, while the stick is referred to as punishment.
An aggressive manager works through his head. Working through the head is using mere logic to get things done. For example, if a task requires 8 hours to finish, an aggressive manager will consider the 8 hours available in a shift which is good enough for a person to finish the task. So logically a person should finish the task in one shift. That is the “working through Head approach”. A working through head approach neglects other aspects of the human-like emotional side of the person. Working through the head is more like treating machines and humans alike. A manager with such an approach will always have a bad reputation because of inhuman nature. A manager should never adopt this approach.
Famous Poet Kabir says- When the grass is under our feet, we must not say anything wrong about it. When the blade of the same grass falls into the eye, it can cause much pain. Kabir has drawn this analogy to explain that when a person is working under you, you must not suppress him. When he gets the power he may payback in the same form.
A manager who works through heart thinks a lot about others. This type of manager is a very emotional person and tends to agree with everything team members say. In such a scenario, team members tend to take advantage of managers’ nature. For example, if a task requires 8 hours, the team member may give various excuses and take a week to finish the work. Team members will be in their comfort zone while working with such a manager and this hampers their productivity and growth.
Both the above scenarios may sound exaggerated, but these are very common. We can easily find such situations around us.
How about combining the head and heart approach?
How about using logic but adding some human touch to the logic?
A manager who is pragmatic as well as caring is always a successful manager at the workplace. Such a manager is always focused on the targets but at the same time concerned about the emotional and physical wellbeing of the team members.
Given the increasing number of mental health issues during this pandemic, the head and heart approach is much needed. When choosing the head and heart approach, we do not compromise with deliverables, we just do it by being more human in our behavior.
Written by Ravindra Puri.
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