In business, management is everything. Good management can turn even a lemon of a company into a star; poor management can wreck the soundest of firms. Top managers are the highest paid professionals in the world with salary figures often in the millions of dollars bracket.
Perhaps the most dramatic manifestation of the management phenomenon is to be found in the upper echelons of professional football in Europe. Clubs like Manchester United, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Chelsea not only win very lucrative championships, they have become vastly successful businesses. While their business achievements cannot entirely be attributed to the football manager, he is nevertheless the focal point of their 'core' business, i.e. football.
Managers like Manchester United's Alex Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger are worth their weight in gold because through their successes on the football pitch, their clubs have become worth billions of pounds sterling.
The same dramatic impact can be observed in the reverse direction. When a highly successful manager leaves a club, or is 'persuaded' to leave, it can fall from the skies in a shockingly short period of time.
Such was the fate of England's Leeds United when its manager, David O'Leary left. Within a season, Leeds United went from being one of the strongest and wealthiest clubs in the English Premiership League to demotion out of the premiership and virtual bankruptcy.
This is the impact of management. It explains the high salaries offered to the top people and also why companies (and clubs) will do anything to secure the services of 'miracle working' bosses.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
That is one side of the coin. The other is replete with instances of poor, even downright useless managers. A mushrooming number of business schools and courses are churning out thousands of new managers by the day but only a handful of them will ever rise to any great heights.
Why? Studies have shown that the main reason for failure is because these managers receive standardised training--the same solutions for the same problems. Life, and business, is not like that.
Some problems are standard but most are not. Good managers are those who can think 'out of the box' and find original solutions to novel problems.
This is of particular importance when it comes to Africa. If Africa is to get anywhere near to achieving any Millennium Development Goals, it needs excellent management at all levels--national as well as commercial...