Leadership Schmeadership; Management Schmanagement


An opinion piece by Debbie Burke

It’s hard not to be cynical about faddism in management. All the jargon, the new and improved methodologies of teaching managers to value their employees, and the latest psychology of finding that golden key to attracting and keeping talented, no-drama people — all this stuff misses the mark. Here are my three biggest gripes on the issue:

1. Bandwagons jumped on to keep up with the corporate Joneses

Kaizen, Six Sigma, silos, yada yada yada (with credit to Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David et al). It’s all common sense. Stop wasting money on sending your employees for a day or week out of the office to learn how to behave, talk to one another, and speak up without fear. Lead by example, behave like a mensch, be fair, be mature.

2. Testing, psychological profiles, and personality matching

You’ll never really know how a new staffer fits in until he or she comes on board and demonstrates his or her ability (or not) to interact with others. Don’t want a revolving door? Communicate, praise, hold accountable and let go/move on if necessary. Do it in a human fashion. Stop treating your human capital like this is a dating game and you are all googly-eyed, looking for the perfect lovely match-up.

3. “Oh well, it didn’t work out…NEXT!”

Organizations aspire to creating a culture of ownership mentality. Unless you have profit sharing, they DON’T own the company. As much as your people can adore their jobs, we work to live, not live to work (and that life is so short). Stop expecting your employees to buy in. Be happy with a fair day’s work with a good degree of productivity. It will all work out if only this magical managerial thinking would just go away.


With a long career in print production, PR, marketing and journalism (including being the former editor of the Pocono Business Journal), Debbie fulfilled her dream of authorship with the 2011 release of “The Poconos In B Flat.” She is the newsletter editor for the Pocono Mountain Arts Council, writes for VisitPoconos.com, and is in the midst of writing her first novel. Her other love is jazz, and for the past eight years she has been playing alto saxophone in several community bands. Debbie lives in Monroe County, PA with her husband, two children and their greyhound. Email her at debcolumn@gmail.com  or look for her on LinkedIn.