Author Victor Lipman: Accomplishing Work Through Others

At Weekdone we’re doing our best to spread a message of productivity and engagement. We want every leader and manager to get the best results possible. Luckily, so do many other people.

We’ve done an interview with Victor Lipman, author of “The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World” (Prentice Hall Press).

He has over two decades of Fortune 500 front-line and executive management experience, most of it in Communications and Marketing and he spent years researching the subject of management, both good and bad, for his book.

I found out very quickly that our understanding of both management and communication is very similar.

As he said: „The endgame is all about productivity. Management is nothing if not a results-oriented endeavor. The question is: How best to get your desired results?”

To find out, keep on reading.

Victor Lipman, auutor "The Type B Manager"

What are the key aspects for a well managed company?

That’s a big question, and could easily have a many-faceted answer. Here, to my way of thinking, are 4 key elements.

  1. Strong, consistent, long-term financial performance.
  2. Integrity of management.
  3. A cadre of well-trained managers at all levels of the organization.
  4. A loyal, productive workforce. (Number 4 will generally follow number 3.)

What sort of mistakes are common among new leaders and managers and what sort of mistakes do experienced leaders most often make?

For new leaders and managers, a common key issue is how to judiciously use newfound authority. As a new manager it can be very easy to come on too strongly, or not strongly enough.

Finding the right balance takes time and experience (it’s seldom said management is easy!). For veteran leaders, a problem I’ve seen repeatedly – that can undermine highly successful careers – is not leading by example.

Believing your own press clippings, placing yourself above the same expectations you have of others. It’s an easy – and completely unnecessary – trap to fall into and way to lose loyalty.

Because it has nothing to do with talent, and everything to do with behavior.

You have said that communication is one of the main tools for a good manager. Where’s the balance between team’s communication and other tasks managers must juggle. Communication is like engine oil, a lubricant. It can’t fix every problem, but it can make things run smoothly. If you don’t have open, clear, honest communication (or worse still, dishonest or disingenuous communication), operations will tend to break down, or run inefficiently.

I don’t view communication as getting in the way of other tasks…it’s more the mechanism by which tasks are administered. Good managers are invariably good communicators. They have to be – as effective management is of course all about accomplishing work through others.

You said in a Forbes article that engagement remains the #1 concern In 2016. Communication is the cornerstone for increasing it but what other aspects should managers focus on to increase it.

This is another big question and some aspects are driven by the nature of the business and employees you’re working with.

In a general sense certainly motivation matters, plus setting clear expectations and holding people accountable to them. I often like to return to the fundamentals of management.

Clear goals, understood by all with managers who lead by example, know their business, and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and don’t avoid conflict. Nothing too complicated here.

Much of management isn’t rocket science – it’s common sense.

But just because something is common sense doesn’t mean it’s commonly practiced. Look at national levels employee engagement consistently around 30 percent and you quickly see that.

You have written a book about Type B managers (The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World ). In short, what’s the differences between Type A and Type B managers?

To understand the Type A and Type B application to management, it’s helpful to know where the nomenclature comes from.

These categorizations of personality were originally developed by two doctors – Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman – in cardiac studies back in the 1950s. Simply put, Type A individuals tend to be more competitive, aggressive, impatient and stressed – while Type Bs tend to be more relaxed, reflective, quieter, and less stressed.

What these two doctors found was that Type A individuals had a greater propensity toward developing heart problems – which was groundbreaking research at the time.

So my insight, or application, was to overlay these personality types onto the world of management, which, if you’ve been around it much, you probably realize is dominated by Type A individuals.

What I found was that (though the phrase Type A behavior was very much in our national vocabulary) this earlier research had never in any comprehensive, meaningful way been applied to management – but that in fact it’s a very helpful lens through which to view and analyze management behavior – both positive and negative.

That’s basically what I did in detail in The Type B Manager.

What is the Type B mindset and how can it benefit companies and teams?

The Type B mindset, from a management standpoint, can be a helpful approach to building rapport – constructive working relationships – with employees.

Let’s come back to the basic core of management – the act of accomplishing work through others. It only stands to reason that a more relaxed, lower stress approach to dealing with people is easier to be on the receiving end of than a tightly wound, high-stress approach. And more rapport leads to better engagement, and better engagement ultimately leads to increased productivity.

The endgame is all about productivity. Management is nothing if not a results-oriented endeavor. The question is: How best to get your desired results?

This is further explained in “The Type B Manager”, where Victor writes:

“At its core, of course, management involves accomplishing work through others – and having others want to continue to do that work for you on an ongoing basis.

The problem, if we accept the assumption that management has a high concentration of Type A personalities, is that some of their salient qualities – impatience, competitiveness, high stress levels – are not qualities that are easy to be on the receiving end of. Indeed, even many of the positive characteristics of effective management – being authoritative, forceful, decisive – admirable qualities that help people make difficult decisions quickly and successfully deliver large, complex projects in a timely manner – are also qualities that have the potential to alienate.

Let me state this clearly: Some Type A managers are unquestionably among the finest individuals I’ve ever had the privilege to know: brilliant, boundless energy, superior role models. But in the aggregate, the difficulties associated with Type A personalities take a managerial toll. It’s just human nature – most people chafe under too much authority, too much forcefulness, too much control.”

As a last question I always ask: what do you think the main challenges will be for running a company in 2020?

Two very different challenges – one new and one very old.

  1. Adapting to the pace of yet unknown technological change.
  2. Understanding and managing human beings – as it’s still the humans who are key to effectively harnessing all this changing technology and actually getting work done. This latter challenge is the same one managers have wrestled with for centuries.

Every time I do an interview, I like to reflect and figure out what are the one or two things that really stay with me.

I think that one of the biggest takeaways here is the fact that management can be done in different ways by different people and that is good.

Management is about accomplishing work through others. And there’s more than one way to skin that cat.