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If you take the long view of leadership and management, what has really changed over the years? And what remains bedrock true regardless of the fads that come and go?

I'm influenced by Ole Ingstrup, former head of the Correctional Service of Canada, who I assisted on his book The Three Pillars of Public Management, co-authored with Paul Crookall.

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Mr. Ingstrup delineated two streams in management over the years, one analytical and the other human relations-oriented, which oscillated in importance over time, starting with Frederick Winslow Taylor's studies on industrial efficiency in the late 1800s. As I think back, when I studied management at McGill in the 1960s, human relations was ascendant. The excitement was over the human-relations findings from people such as Douglas McGregor and Abraham Maslow, but we were also being prepped for the next wave as we studied, for the first time, operations research and took our Fortran cards to the computer lab.

These days, I'm not sure if either approach dominates, as we benefit from the latest studies in psychology and big data simultaneously. The field of behavioural economics may symbolize that co-mingling. At the same time, artificial intelligence and the rise of Amazon, a data company, and algorithmic-focused operations such as Facebook, suggest we may be headed towards an era of analytical supremacy.

Canada has benefited from a management gadfly I came to know initially back at McGill: Henry Mintzberg.

Perhaps of most relevance to your question are two powerful notions he advanced. He helped us to understand that strategy can be emergent, from the grassroots, rather than just be delivered top down, from the executive retreat. He has received less attention for his recent organizational model, notably in the book Managing, in which he shows managers at the centre of a circle rather than atop a hierarchy. In a networked world, managers operate with and through a myriad of people, inside and outside the organization.

A final change worth highlighting is that we can benefit these days from people such as Jim Collins, a dedicated researcher on management who tries to analyze success in a rigorous way, digging out "the truth." We are armed, if we choose, with better knowledge of what works, although as with medicine, each study has flaws and no single one has all the answers.

What's the best way to broach the topic of a pay raise?

That's something I have never done, so you are asking the wrong guy. But I did get pay raises, unasked, so my approach wasn't a total disaster.

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First, it's important at the outset of a job to settle on the best remuneration you can obtain. You lose out if you don't. Studies show women, who are less likely than men to push for more money, have a significant shortfall over a lifetime.

If when you take the job your boss says for now you need to accept less but down the road an adjustment can be made, that's an obvious starting point. If not, think of your request through the eyes of your boss. When you ask for a raise, she is probably thinking, in order, of:

  • Her own boss’s likely reaction.
     
  • Her budget.
     
  • What the request says about you and her future dealings with you.
     
  • Whether it’s justified.

Unfortunately, the tendency is to start with the bottom factor: performance. You go in armed with all sorts of proof of your value, which is perhaps only a minor part of the decision, mainly to arm your boss to deal with her boss.

You don't influence budget. But you should be sensitive to it. If somebody has just left – particularly somebody with a hefty pay packet – your boss may have room to respond to your request. Budget time is also a good time to ask, since money for the coming period is being considered.

The boss will be evaluating what your request means down the road in dealing with you. Are you going to be a nuisance, always asking for money and other things? If denied, will you become demoralized, a pain to have on staff? So you want to provide some reassurance about your commitment and that she won't have you in her office every six months.

Good luck.

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Cannonballs

  • Any board of directors that doesn’t spend much of its time in the next few months considering the risk of a senior manager being accused of sexual assault is taking a big risk. You need a process to handle such claims that is seen as fair but also highly responsive to allegations, backed by credibility in advance, preferably through leaders who have shown passion for the issue, not just jumping on it now as flavour of the month. Talking to women’s groups probably beats talking to the lawyers.
     
  • Keep in mind that sexual harassment is not a random occurrence. John Sullivan, who has been called “the father of HR metrics,” says it’s more likely to occur in certain places than others, for example IT rather than HR.
     
  • In Mr. Mintzberg’s circular schema, and others, leaders are ambassadors who represent their organizations outside. The media may like to poke fun at the glitzy aspects of Davos, as it did last week, and the left has reason to question such a gathering. But a prime minister or president – even from the left – has to consider being there, at least from time to time.
Strategic IQ is more about understanding how other people are going to behave. This is a skill that is hardly developed in formal education, which would cause some people to believe that this is a born skill Special to Globe and Mail Update
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