businesses, non-profit organizations, social movements, and governments depend on vibrant
and competent leadership to thrive. Organizations of all types throughout our society are
in desperate and constant need of effective leadersindividuals who can make
extraordinary things happen through and with other people.
As social entities,
organizations are made up of people and the things that they do are accomplished by,
through, and with people. For an organization to be effective, the work of its people must
be coordinated by someone or something. The coordination of the work of people and its
study, fall within the domain of management. The principles, concepts, and skills of
management apply to all types of organizations.
After 18 years of playing
racquetball, I decided to earn an instructor's certification. In those 18 years of
playing, I'd never had any formal instruction or introduction to the principles and
philosophy of the game--I had learned everything that I knew of the game through personal
experience on the court.
During my instructor's
certification clinic, the head clinician started the program in the classroom (not on the
court) with a review of the fundamentals of the game--including a review and test of the
rules. Over the weekend-long clinic, we discussed the basic strategies and
principles of the game, analyzed proper stroke mechanics, and learned drills to help us
perfect our games and to use when teaching others.
I learned in one weekend
what took me years to figure out by myself through my own personal experience. The
clinic also made me consiously aware of things that I already knew unconsiously about the
game, my abilities, and my style of play. At the end of the weekend, I felt
re-energized about the game and my playing abilities--however, I also regretted that I'd
not had such a learning experience years earlier.
Just as budding athletes,
artists, and musicians develop and improve their skills more fully and efficiently through
lessons and study, rather than learning only through personal trial and error, so too can
students of leadership, management, and organization develop understanding and skills more
efficiently through study and practice than those who only learn independently through
The manager's job is
primarily one of a problem solver. Managers, when confronted with problems brought
about by novel situations, exceptions, or unexpected events and circumstances, must
analyze the problem, diagnose causes, and derive remedies to best solve the problem with
the interests of the organization in mind.
As individuals, our past
experiences and the things that we know and understand determine how we define and develop
solutions to problems. In other words, those things that we know shape how we
address and solve problems--our experiences make up the tools we use to solve problems.
Exposure to management
theories and ideas gives managers and organizational decision-makers a more complete set
of tools to solve organizational problems than with tools derived only from personal
Athletes, artists, and
musicians require formal study of the rules, principles, and philosophies in their fields
of interest. However, their skills can only be fully developed when they practice,
reflect upon, and improve those skills through ongoing, continuous, and purposeful
practice. Likewise, the applied and hands-on nature of management requires students
of management to practice what they learn.
These training sessions
emphasize practice and theory. Interactive examples, exercises, and experiences
allow participants to see the concepts in action. Participants are also challenged
to perform critical reflection on their own strengths, weaknesses, and "styles of
play." They are encouraged to develop strategies on ways to improve their own