Who Taught You How to Manage?

I’ve been to business school

After 2 years of studying and a plethora of exams I was awarded an M.B.A.  I learnt about:

Book after book after book.  Some of it was fascinating, some of it was tedious but I got the letters after my name and it got me promoted.

I have worked for blue chip organisations

I’ve made soap powder and chocolates, I’ve sold debt and insurance.  I learnt about:

Course after course after course.  Some of it was valuable, some of it was pointless but I got the positions on my C.V. and landed the next job.

But nobody taught me how to manage

Not once in twenty-five years has anybody really told me how to work with people.  There wasn’t one lesson about

Maybe I just went to a second-rate business school.  Maybe I’ve worked for badly run organisations.

But I didn’t and I haven’t.

Why don’t we teach management?

Perhaps there is an opportunity for a learning and development course out there.  I’d buy it — hell, my team might even buy it for me.

If you enjoyed this post click here for updates delivered straight to your inbox

Teaching Management

Read another opinion

Image by DBduo Photography


  1. I often wonder of employers .. given the choice of a manager with an MBA or a Chartered manager, both with similar experience and track record. Who would be the more attractive hire?

  2. Well James,

    Asking these sorts of questions is going to get you into all sorts of trouble! You might even end up leaving and becoming an independent given your zen like focus.

    It’s a learn by doing type of deal. Although a healthy dose of advanced interpersonal skills never goes amiss when communication is at the heart of it all


    • James,
      In the middle of Martin’s comment, I think he hit the nail on the head when he talked about how it’s all about communication in all it’s guises. However, a bigger question might be whether or not that can be learnt in a classroom or from a book or is it an experiential thing or a combo of both. I’d suggest the latter.

      But, who has the time for that?


  3. James,
    You hit the nail on the head with regard to management training. It’s a vital skill that gets missed. The effects of which are disastrous. In the US, 75% of employees who voluntarily leave an organization are not quitting their job. They are quitting their boss. Mainly because those managers are ill-equipped to manage.

  4. Hello James,

    It occurs to me that you are wise man. Why do I say that? Because I am convinced that life is all about ‘how to work with people’ in way that honours your needs and at the same time honours the needs of the people that are there with you in that situation. There is an art to this and it occurs to me that one learns this only if one is not in the role of ‘leader’, ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. Why? Because when you have authority over others, there is no need to learn to work with people: you are conditioned to expect that people will do ask you tell them to do. And for the most part that is what happens. They just don’t do it with their hearts, they do it with their arms and legs.

    Further, to truly grasp what it takes to ‘work with people’ as in ‘working with the grain of the wood’ if you are a carpenter it is necessary to unlearn all that you have learned and have the courage to let go of just about every management practice that is going on around you. And in which you find yourself enmeshed. That is no easy feat.

    All the best

    • James Lawther says:

      I’d not thought of that Maz, but it is so true. If you are a manager then people will do as you ask. Regardless. That is a bit of a problem.


  5. James,

    I have a degree in Management, and I can tell you that I didn’t take any courses that taught any of those four things you list. So there you go. However, communication and common sense are two important tools for managing. One of the things that helped me as a manager is looking at those I’ve reported to and saying, “I would never do that.” It was more about hands-on “learning by learning what not to do.”

    Annette :_)

Speak Your Mind