Management: A corrupted art?

Management has become a byword for incompetence in many organisations. That needs to change.

by Nigel Nicholson
Last Updated: 02 Jul 2015

As the most complex and enthusiastic of social animals we have always found it easy to take responsibility for coordinating each other's efforts and resources toward shared goals.

The first writers on business named and proclaimed management as one of the most critical success factors for enterprises and institutions. But it is disturbing to see how its professionalisation has become bloated, partly through an over-rich diet of rewards and recognition. Drucker's noble dream has become tarnished and satirised. Management is where you move incompetent people to minimise the damage they can do (Dilbert), or the place where bad things happen because we have persisted in promoting people to their level of incompetence (the Peter Principle).

Yet management remains a noble art and skilled practice that has continually to be recovered and transformed, so integral is it to the innovation, vision, and humanity of collaborative endeavour.

To see Nigel Nicholson's book, The 'I' of Leadership: Strategies for seeing, being and doing (Jossey-Bass, £18.99), go to

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

When spying on your staff backfires

As Barclays' recently-scrapped tracking software shows, snooping on your colleagues is never a good idea....

A CEO’s guide to smart decision-making

You spend enough time doing it, but have you ever thought about how you do...

What Tinder can teach you about recruitment

How to make sure top talent swipes right on your business.

An Orwellian nightmare for mice: Pest control in the digital age

Case study: Rentokil’s smart mouse traps use real-time surveillance, transforming the company’s service offer.

Public failure can be the best thing that happens to you

But too often businesses stigmatise it.

Andrew Strauss: Leadership lessons from an international cricket captain

"It's more important to make the decision right than make the right decision."