Management – A House of Cards?

Is Your Management Style Built on a House of Cards?

Have you ever tried building a house of cards? It is certainly not an easy thing to do and a brand new deck is no good, too slippery. No when it works best the cards need to be well used, well thumbed and a bit sticky! Nice huh.

When I work with managers, either when coaching or on training courses, I like to take the time to work out how they have got to where they are and what makes them successful. Often their foundations will help to shape their opinions and style of management. Many managers use their experience of being managed as a benchmark for what they should or should not do. I like to think of them like a deck of cards. Let’s cut the deck shall we?


King DiamondsThe King of Diamonds – This manager is a bit of geezer, a friend to everyone, likes to be involved and definitely has leadership qualities, the people in the team like to follow this popular card. Sometimes tough, the King is definitely very proud of his position and will, if provoked pull rank and shout down anyone who crosses him. Not a lover of process and procedure the King will often abdicate tricky management decisions to others like Human Resources whilst at all times remaining in control.

Queen HeartsThe Queen of Hearts This manager is driven by emotion and allows the heart to rule the head. This card can be prone to outbursts of happiness and temper, however you never know what you will get as the Queen, driven by emotion is highly unpredictable and therefore can be seen as inconsistent. The teams tread on eggshells around this card and in some way this manager likes this and it appeals to their passive aggressive nature. On the positive side when a team member is threatened, the Queen of Hearts becomes fiercely protective, and will defend them to the hilt.

Jack CLubsThe Jack of Clubs – This manager is usually inexperienced and new to management, choosing a style that suits their previous role. The Jack finds difficultly moving from teammate to manager and struggles with the new role, preferring the comfort of the old position and being with old friends. Indecisive and nervous around senior managers, the Jack is keen to please and uses these managers to help make decisions for him. The thing is, these managers don’t know they are being manipulated as the Jack possesses terrific influencing and communication skills so can use people as is needed.

Ace SpadesThe Ace of Spades – The Ace is great manager, robust, tough when needed and tells things as they are. There is no fluffiness with the Ace of Spades and as such this card chooses to use processes and procedures to their advantage. Generally respected by the business, these cards carry a great deal of influence and do not suffer fools gladly, however their somewhat inflexible yet fair nature means that people who work for them will work hard and play hard, knowing what is expected and when it needs to be done. Or else.

JokerThe Joker – This manager has found himself or herself in a position of management because there was nothing else that could be offered to them, so management was the best thing. This creates the badge manager pure and simple. This manager did not want to be a manager, but they took the role because of the money and status, not because they felt they could do the job. Difficult to train, and to work for, the Joker doesn’t want to learn and therefore makes mistakes, which they then laugh off using humour inappropriately. The Joker is not respected by the people who work for them as they have no credibility and nothing to offer. Sad really, but not their fault, after all the position was offered to them, not the other way around so the joke is on the employer.

In order to create effective managers, there is no one size fits all approach. Managers need to be good at what they do as a job from a technical perspective; they also need to be able to carry out the five foundation functions of management as laid down by Fayol. These are to plan, to organize, to command, to coordinate, and to control. When these five functions are being carried out in the appropriate manner for the businesses they are in, then the foundations for good management can then be set in place. Far more stable than a house of cards, no matter how sticky or well thumbed it may be.

Thanks for reading, if your managers need management training or coaching, why not drop me an email or call me on 07979 537824

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