The principles of management are drawn from a number of academic fields, principally, the fields of leadership, entrepreneurship, and strategy.
If management is defined as getting things done through others, then leadership should be defined as the social and informal sources of influence that you use to inspire action taken by others. It means mobilizing others to want to struggle toward a common goal. Great leaders help build an organization’s human capital, then motivate individuals to take concerted action. Leadership also includes an understanding of when, where, and how to use more formal sources of authority and power, such as position or ownership. Increasingly, we live in a world where good management requires good leaders and leadership. While these views about the importance of leadership are not new, competition among employers and countries for the best and brightest, increased labor mobility, and hypercompetition puts pressure on firms to invest in present and future leadership capabilities.
It’s fitting that this section on entrepreneurship follows the discussion of Google. Entrepreneurship is defined as the recognition of opportunities (needs, wants, problems, and challenges) and the use or creation of resources to implement innovative ideas for new, thoughtfully planned ventures. Perhaps this is obvious, but an entrepreneur is a person who engages in the process of entrepreneurship. We describe entrepreneurship as a process because it often involves more than simply coming up with a good idea—someone also has to convert that idea into action.
As an example of both, Google’s leaders suggest that its point of distinction “is anticipating needs not yet articulated by our global audience, then meeting them with products and services that set new standards. This constant dissatisfaction with the way things are is ultimately the driving force behind the world’s best search engine.
Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship are the catalysts for value creation. They identify and create new markets, as well as foster change in existing ones. However, such value creation first requires an opportunity. Indeed, the opportunity-driven nature of entrepreneurship is critical. Opportunities are typically characterized as problems in search of solutions, and the best opportunities are big problems in search of big solutions. “The greater the inconsistencies in existing service and quality, in lead times and in lag times, the greater the vacuums and gaps in information and knowledge, the greater the opportunities.” J. Timmons, The Entrepreneurial Process (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999), 39. In other words, bigger problems will often mean there will be a bigger market for the product or service that the entrepreneur creates. We hope you can see why the problem-solving, opportunity-seeking nature of entrepreneurship is a fundamental building block for effective principles of management.
When an organization has a long-term purpose, articulated in clear goals and objectives, and these goals and objectives can be rolled up into a coherent plan of action, then we would say that the organization has a strategy. It has a good or even great strategy when this plan also takes advantage of unique resources and capabilities to exploit a big and growing external opportunity. Strategy then, is the central, integrated, externally-oriented concept of how an organization will achieve its objectives. Strategic management is the body of knowledge that answers questions about the development and implementation of good strategies.
Strategic management is important to all organizations because, when correctly formulated and communicated, strategy provides leaders and employees with a clear set of guidelines for their daily actions. This is why strategy is so critical to the principles of management you are learning about. Simply put, strategy is about making choices: What do I do today? What shouldn’t I be doing? What should my organization be doing? What should it stop doing?
Synchronizing Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Strategy
You know that leadership, entrepreneurship, and strategy are the inspiration for important, valuable, and useful principles of management. Now you will want to understand how they might relate to one another. In terms of principles of management, you can think of leadership, entrepreneurship, and strategic management as answering questions about “who,” “what,” and “how.” Leadership helps you understand who helps lead the organization forward and what the critical characteristics of good leadership might be. Entrepreneurial firms and entrepreneurs in general are fanatical about identifying opportunities and solving problems—for any organization, entrepreneurship answers big questions about “what” an organization’s purpose might be. Finally, strategic management aims to make sure that the right choices are made—specifically, that a good strategy is in place—to exploit those big opportunities.
One way to see how leadership, entrepreneurship, and strategy come together for an organization—and for you—is through a recent (disguised) job posting from Craigslist. Look at the ideal candidate characteristics identified in the Help Wanted ad—you don’t have to look very closely to see that if you happen to be a recent business undergrad, then the organization depicted in the ad is looking for you. The posting identifies a number of areas of functional expertise for the target candidate. You can imagine that this new position is pretty critical for the success of the business. For that reason, we hope you are not surprised to see that, beyond functional expertise, this business seeks someone with leadership, entrepreneurial, and strategic orientation and skills. Now you have a better idea of what those key principles of management involve.
The principles of management are drawn from three specific areas—leadership, entrepreneurship, and strategic management. You learned that leadership helps you understand who helps lead the organization forward and what the critical characteristics of good leadership might be. Entrepreneurs are fanatical about identifying opportunities and solving problems—for any organization, entrepreneurship answers big questions about “what” an organization’s purpose might be. Finally, as you’ve already learned, strategic management aims to make sure that the right choices are made—specifically, that a good strategy is in place—to exploit those big opportunities.