The definition of Management has changed over the years.According to Peter Drucker, “A manager is responsible for application and performance of knowledge.” Perhaps, the most apt definition for management in the present era concerns managing people around you- by acting as an influence in the decisions that they make and being able to align them in the line of the goals that have been set. In fact it is often said that a sharp mind and a fiery tongue is the key to success when it comes to managing people and driving your way to success.
A similar incident happened to me during my first job in Egypt when I was working in my capacity as marketing merchandiser in a multinational garment firm. During negotiation with the buying merchant from George UK (private label of Wal-Mart USA), the negotiations were heading nowhere. I was unwilling to reduce my prices as per his requirement and there were also sharp differences regarding the delivery schedule. To make matters worse, even my boss was not there in the meeting so I had to take the decisions on my own. Egyptians, like Indians, are known to have a weakness for chicken delicacies and when it comes to chicken, there is KFC. So I decided to order a KFC bucket for the delegation and myself for lunch. As soon as Mr. Magdy (the buying merchandiser) had taken the first bite of Chicken, I could see his facial expression change- he was now appearing much more relaxed. I saw this as an opportunity and quickly came forward with an idea to merge two different contracts- while he accepted the price, I accepted the delivery schedule he had proposed. It was a win-win situation for both. My sharp mind and fiery tongue saved my skin on that day. Sometimes, I wonder whether it was KFC’s chicken or my sharp mind that made my day- the order was executed perfectly and the company made millions in profit.
If we look at the world of management today, it is undergoing a tremendous change. Companies like Cranium, one of the leading manufacturers of board games, encourage free thinking in their office space and even have employees choosing their own nicknames for their designations. KFC is also working in the similar line. If we walk into any of their outlets, one can see their beautifully coloured walls with ideas on how to party- this actually sets across a new stream of ideas and creativity across both the employees and customers alike.
George Eliot had once said, “To manage men, one ought to have a sharp mind in a velvet sheath.” Perhaps the field of management has reached the same stage.
Food for thought: How important do you consider is sharp mind and fiery tongue for managing people ?