My new book, THE MANAGER’S DILEMMA, explores the widening gap between the increasing demands we face and the shrinking resources we have available to meet them. However, it is not a time management book to deal with the avalanche of e-mails, meetings, and tasks dropped on your plate. Nor does it offer a packaged set of clever work-arounds to deal with the overflowing and stressful priorities you face. I make the case that it’s time for managers to take off their capes once and for all; the superhuman notion of getting more and better work done with fewer resources is a profoundly damaging myth whose time has passed.
Instead, the book is about the effect that living within the gap has on one of the largest categories of workers in the world: the millions of managerial professionals embedded within every sector and industry of our economy. More importantly, it is a book that reveals how the tension between shrinking capacity and increasing demands forces us into an unwanted status quo where we constantly struggle to make progress, but never really catch up.
Regardless of your experience and rank, if you are responsible for managing people, projects, and priorities, then you are susceptible to this vicious experience that I call the manager’s dilemma. When it emerges for you, it not only reduces your productivity and effectiveness in the short term, but also erodes the quality of your working life in the long run.
The heart of the book includes a series of eight principles and practices that reveal the dilemma’s core challenge and show you how to move beyond them. It turns out that the dilemma’s triggers are swinging doors and within each one there is an alternative path that acts as an escape hatch. To exit the dilemma, you have to go out the way you came in:
- The dilemma leaves us feeling trapped with unwanted options on all sides, so follow the contradiction to loosen the grip of the dilemma.
- It turns us around and distorts our values and goals, so determine your line of sight to focus on the right priorities.
- It spins our wheels, causing extra effort with less effectiveness, so distinguish your contribution to make a deeper impact.
- It punctures leaks in our already fragile time, energy, resources, and focus, so plug the leaks to restore your capacity.
- It forces us to accomplish unimportant stuff, so create the conditions you need to achieve more value.
- It leaves us powerless and unable to impact our circumstances, so find the pocket of influence to use minimal effort for maximum impact.
- It threatens us, forcing a divisive “us vs. them” competition, so make your goals their priorities and strike the mutual agenda.
- It limits our ability to use everyday obstacles for good, so convert your challenges to fuel and turn the tables on the dilemma.
Together, these eight drivers and related responses can change the way you work. If the book was a seminar, the objectives would be to:(a) identify what fuels and sustains the manager’s dilemma; (b) recognize the specific effects your dilemma has on you; (c) understand and apply eight proven strategies to overcome it; and (d) develop sustaining momentum to avoid lapsing back into it. Reading the Manager’s Dilemma will show you how to:
- Focus on the right priorities
- Make a deeper impact
- Restore your capacity
- Achieve more value
- Use minimal effort for maximum influence
- Stop the counterproductive actions that keep you scattered
Above all else, I sincerely hope that the book offers you the insights and tools you need to craft a healthier and more productive working life however you define that. Thanks for reading!