May 16, 2022 4 min read

On decision making and how language influences choices

Level up your leadership. Each edition is a 3 min read, and contains an original article summary, an actionable snippet, a set of reflection prompts, and a reading recommendation.


Original Article Summary

I am changing the format this week. Usually I feature a summary of one of my articles in this section. Unfortunately my website hosting provider went down over the weekend and with it my site.

So instead of the usual, I am sharing some of my tweets.

I successfully stayed off Twitter for 16 years since its launch but recently realized that it's a powerful medium to get my ideas out and connect with people.

So I earnestly started my Twitter career a couple of weeks back with a mixed bag of results. Below are 4 tweets you might like.​

twitter profile avatar
Sheril Mathews
Twitter Logo
@mathews_sheril
April 27th 2022
1
Retweets
11
Likes

twitter profile avatar
Sheril Mathews
Twitter Logo
@mathews_sheril
May 7th 2022
0
Retweets
3
Likes

twitter profile avatar
Sheril Mathews
Twitter Logo
@mathews_sheril
May 7th 2022
0
Retweets
1
Likes

twitter profile avatar
Sheril Mathews
Twitter Logo
@mathews_sheril
May 6th 2022
1
Retweets
3
Likes


Actionable Snippet

In his seminal classic The Human Side of Enterprise, Douglas McGregor differentiates between an agricultural vs a manufacturing approach towards developing leadership and management talent.

He wrote:

Many companies have followed one of these which might be characterized as the “manufacturing” approach.​

Management has not phrased its philosophy this way, but it has looked on the problem essentially as a production problem. ​People have been assigned the engineering task of designing a program and building the necessary machinery, toward the end of producing the needed supply of managerial talent. The production of managerial talent is itself a big business.

​An alternative approach to management development is somewhat analogous to that of agriculture. ​It is concerned with “growing” talent rather than manufacturing it.

The fundamental idea behind such an approach is that the individual will grow into what he is capable of becoming, provided we can create the proper conditions for that growth. ​Such an approach involves less emphasis on manufacturing techniques and more on controlling the climate and the fertility of the soil, and on methods of cultivation.

Leveraging how we use langauge is a key trait of effective leaders.

Notice how the language we use to describe a given challenge significantly alters our approach. In an agricultural context we cannot “make” a plant grow or “speed up” the process.

On the other hand, the notion of a "leadership engine" or a "leadership pipeline" (both names of well-known leadership books) opens up a completely different set of approaches and attitudes.

The idea is not whether one approach is better than the other but to look at our own biases and assumptions and adjust accordingly.


Reflection Questions

  • When working with people, what model are we assuming? Is it the agricultural model or the industrial model?
  • Which approach does our particular situation warrant?
  • Which one are we skewed towards?
  • Can we achieve a balance between the two?
  • Which approach is more sustainable in the long-run?

Leader’s Library

Usually I put a reading recommendation in this section. In the spirit of doing something different this week, below is a tweet I came across that gave me a lot to pause and think about.

Last week saw a lot of turmoil in the financial markets. This coupled with ongoing inflation, the Ukraine conflict, and a bunch of other macro issues is on everyone's minds.

This is not including the myriad of challenges we all face in our own little microcosms of individual worlds.

But even in the midst of all this, most of us live very comfortable lives. The picture below is a very poignant reminder of just that.

Comparison can be the fastest way to misery. On the other hand, gratitude can be a powerful counter-balance.

As an exercise, notice what you notice in the picture.

When you look at the picture what did it trigger for you? At the meta-level what is your take on the thought that emerged? What will you do differently this week?

twitter profile avatar
Vala Afshar
Twitter Logo
Twitter Logo
@ValaAfshar
May 4th 2022
129
Retweets
570
Likes

That’s it for this edition. Have a great week!

– Sheril Mathews

Sheril Mathews
After a 20 year stint in various technical/management/leadership/ positions in the wilds of corporate America I started LS to help leaders & high performers level up their game.
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Leading Sapiens.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.