Title: Managing from the Heart
Authors: Hyler Bracey, Jack Rosenblum, Aubrey Sanford and Roy Trueblood
Publisher: Dell, 1993
ISBN-13: 978-0440504726, 191 pages
Once upon a time, in the early ’90s, a quartet of Atlanta organizational consultants – Hyler Bracey, Jack Rosenblum, Aubrey Sanford and Roy Trueblood – wrote this business management parable about a manager who grows from sour and crusty to sweet and caring. Their book caught the corporate world’s imagination and gave life to a “kinder, gentler” management style. Today, as authoritarian management tactics continue to fade and collaborative, empathetic leadership proves increasingly productive, their five axioms merit revisiting. These principles call for being understanding, supportive, perceptive, honest and compassionate. The story may be a bit schmaltzy, and it draws to a predictable conclusion; yet, because it departs from typical leadership tales and because it has hardily weathered the test of time, getAbstract recommends it to managers who want to succeed as leaders by being both effective and empathetic.
Harry Hartwell’s day started in typical fashion. As he made the rounds at the Ramoco Oil Refinery, which he managed, he greeted workers by name and commented about any ongoing problems. Scurrying to look busy as the ex-football player strode down the hall, employees worried that his disapproving eye would scrutinize them. Harry had an intimidating presence. Though he prided himself on his straight-shooting style, as one employee put it, “He is a straight shooter, but he pulls the trigger a whole lot. And I don’t want to be a sitting target.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Harry started working at Ramoco after college, moving steadily up the ranks until he became a manager. He loved his job and the oil industry, although the pressure of being the head honcho was beginning to take its toll. He had nightmares about losing control and experienced physical symptoms of stress such as recurring colds and shortness of breath. That day, as Harry announced upcoming layoffs, he felt a pain in his chest and passed out cold. An ambulance rushed him to the hospital, where he lay unconscious.
Harry awoke in an all-white room, surrounded by an iridescent light. It wasn’t a hospital room; Harry feared he had died. As he was about to panic, he noticed that a calm, lovely woman with kind eyes was sitting in a chair nearby. “Harry,” she said, “You fall into...our discretionary category.” She explained that his development as a loving, caring human being had stagnated. As a manager, he used intimidation, ridicule and threats to get what he wanted. At home, his behavior stopped just short of bullying. Unless he changed, she couldn’t return him to his life.
The woman, named Selena, told Harry that he must learn to “manage from the heart” if he wanted his life back. Harry sputtered and protested, but soon realized that he had no choice. Finally, he asked how she expected him to execute this new management style. Selena explained that he had to understand what his subordinates wanted and needed to be productive and fulfilled at work. Harry listened skeptically. In his world, emotions had no place in business. He feared that if he showed a softer side, people would take advantage of him, but Selena left him no option but to try managing the company her way. She told him to follow five principles…