“Good management starts with footwork. Boxers and cricketers know knock-outs and runs start with the footwork. Managers must use their feet to ‘go there’ creating awareness, understanding and picking up knowledge. Burn your desk. Manage on the hoof.”

I love this quote in today’s post from Roy Lilley at NHS managers.net.  His end of year missive is as good as it gets from anger at the constant reforms, senior management who have no idea how to lead and quite frighteningly stupid targets and measurement supremo’s   Read it and learn a lot!

MBWA?  That’s what Roy was talking about – Management by Walking Around.  I just love “burn your desk”.  Metaphorically, one hopes (where do you put your tea, otherwise?).  I have come across a lot of this not happening in my time.  It is often the “upstairs / downstairs” mentality that pervades a lot of organisations.  I know ‘us and them’ can be perpetuated by those lower down , not just those higher ups looking down their noses – but the result is the same.  Lack of transparency, respect, and trust.  Lower levels of real communication.  Things going wrong.  Resentment.  A feeling of not being involved.  Worthlessness.

Image of Tom Peters

Tom Peters – I think he was the originator of the idea?

Yes – you noticed – not doing this badly infects all other soft skills positives.

Burn your desk.  A New Years revolution is in sight!

Men or women?

Or should that be masculine or feminine?

It feels inherently logical to talk of masculine and feminine traits in managers at least to fit the hard and soft skills stereotypes pretty neatly.


Nurturing, listening, supporting engagement; all soft and fluffy?

KPIs, Performance Management, Strategic Planning; more hunter gatherer?

Where do you put, core values, cajoling, influencing, coaching, accountability, recognition, motivation, teamwork?

It’s not so cut and dried, is it?

I do find the old arguments about which are the traits of a leader and which are those of a manager rather dry too.  Most of us real world people do both, often on the same shift.  OK – the higher up the organisation you are the more ‘thinking the unthinkable’ types of meeting you may well attend.  But we all do both managing and leading – don’t we?

All of us need to get more in touch with what can loosely be termed feminine traits.  They are most helpful to the Soft Skills cause.

But the most important thing to realise is that if we are to make the most of these skills, we really need to make sure we use the right ones in the right context.


Flexibility and adaptability are the keys to this.  Most of us are less flexible and adaptable than we think we are.  Ask the people around you.  Don’t be surprised at the answer.


So it’s not men or women.  It’s masculine AND feminine.  We need both sets of traits to give us maximum credibility and flexibility.