Power? Manage like a CEO!

In an organization with more than two people, most likely there is a hierarchy. Some people are managing others.

On the other hand, project leaders are not necessarily managers of the members of the project team. Project leaders can not give orders to get things done. In our organization it is even worse: project team members are employed by different universities and hospitals, and the project leaders are in our separate group. Orders will not work.

A question that comes up sometimes is: how can one manage a project and its team members without giving orders? Sometimes this comes in the form: for you things are much easier, you are the boss and can tell everyone what to do; I do not have such power over the project team. My answer to that is: how often do I order you what to do? And if I'm not ordering you what to do, how do we run a coherent organization?

The clue is: don't tell people what to do, convince them instead. Build trust (this takes a while), and then use your expertise to convince the members of the team to align.

In fact in larger organizations, managers do not use orders a whole lot. Trust (and expertise) are much more effective. And this gets stronger higher up in the organization, up to the CEO. The biggest problem with managerial power is that it wears off when you use it. Trust grows when used properly.

Don't manage by giving orders. Act like the big company CEO.

For more inspiration, listen to this Manager Tools cast.

[Image credit: Giving orders by lincolndisplayimages.com on flickr]


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Childs play?

How can we expect our kids to learn science if we don't teach them the right things? This documentation came with a crystal growing experiment for kids. Only two out of seven images have the right label. #oops

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We don't have a bird of prey in our garden every day. Looks like one fewer sparrows will have breakfast tomorrow. #garden #home

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Two meanings of the word chemistry, with different connotations

Chemistry as a noun has two completely distinct meanings in every day life:

  • A good social relationship: 

 "It was visible that there was chemistry between those two people"

  • Something related to a compound that is supposedly bad for people or the environment. "Chemical" is often used as synomymous with poisonous:  

"A chemical leaked from the container into the sea, endangering the fish"

How come these two meanings of the same word have such extremely different connotations? After all, the scientific word chemistry represents any kind of reaction between two compounds and does not have any positive nor negative meaning in itself. Water is a chemical. Life is chemistry.

As a chemist, I wish I could change the negative connotation of molecular chemistry in the news. But if I really do not succeed, maybe I can influence the social meaning of chemistry to make things consistent:

"There was chemistry between those two! When they first met, she tried to poison him. As soon as he recovered he exploded in anger."

 Somehow I feel this would not be as satisfying.

[image credit: Nic McPhee on flickr]

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