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The Relentless Pursuit of Having Nothing To Do by Anthony Allinson

In June I wrote a post here aimed to start challenging our thinking on how we see this thing we call “Management” especially in the context of Leadership. We seem to spend so much of our time pursuing the questions of Leadership that it feels relatively little time is given to Management. My provocation was the statement that “There is no such thing as Management” but I also wanted to bring in others informed perspectives to create some colour and to challenge apparently dominant narratives. I’ve been delighted by the response and over the coming weeks I’m hosting a series of guest blog posts bringing a range of views and their own challenges.

This first guest post comes from Anthony Allinson. I really enjoy his perspectives on the world which he often shares generously on Twitter at @allinsona and on his own blog Joining The Dots. For me, his writing shows he’s rarely been “looking the wrong way” – far from it in fact!

This post was originally published here but as it kicks off this series so well, we’ve both agreed to republish it here with Anthony’s foreword. I hope you enjoy it!


Thanks to David for having me as a guest here.

I tend to think that management is all too real, but that working hard to have nothing to do is not a bad philosophy. It helps you scale and best of all means you can go on holiday and switch it all off, safe in the knowledge that the team have got it covered.

I find I have a lot more fun at work if I treat management as the relentless pursuit of having nothing to do, safe in the knowledge that I’ll never get there.

The Relentless Pursuit of Having Nothing To Do

I got involved in a conversation recently about what the point management is and what makes a good manager. That this conversation took place at all was something of a worry. It is one of those stories that will have to wait for a few years so as to protect the guilty.

I asked a few people that I trust for their perspectives on the important skills and character traits of managers. Someone insisted it was, “all about”, some fad or other, which of course it isnt’t.  Another, rightly, gently told me off for making silly lists and pigeon holing people at the expense of variety, my current favourite theme.  She was right, and this was born out in the range of responses. While there was some overlap, each varied considerably.

Anyway, while we can make and debate such lists, I’ve concluded that managers who are always trying to work themselves out of a job, rather than render themselves indespensible are the best ones, at least in rapidly changing environments.

I might even be so bold as to say that good management is the relentless pursuit of having nothing to do, while getting a lot done and getting it done well. A good manager takes this gamble in the certain kowledge that they will probably never get there and that whenever they get close they’ll be given other things to do anyway.

People like that also get to have interesting working lives and make a lot of friends in the process. I know a very few. I’m starting to wonder if the corporate world has forgotten that management is quite important.


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