18Have you heard about management by objectives? How about management by e-mail? Leadership by e-mail?
Wait...Did that last ones sound weird only to me?
In the modern world you can't practically do anything without e-mail. We receive, read, write, reply, forward and compose e-mails at the workplace, on the way home, at home, in the park or practically everywhere we go. Being connected is part of our daily routine and is a fact of life. E-mail is not a commodity anymore – it is a necessity.
There is one particular area however, where e-mail is actually neither of those. Did you guess already? Yes, that's right – Leadership.
Leadership is about emotion, it's about being able to touch and transform, to ignite, to inspire, to create a strong vision and feelings. It's about trust, integrity, respect and a feeling of unity and belonging. It's about the Leader whose personality and presence makes us do our best in a strange state of a razor sharp determination of will and euphoria. It's about contagious feelings. It's about exchange of energy. It's about what makes us human.
Now imagine accomplishing the above sitting in a fortified fortress, alone in it, with your people outside of its walls. You throw messages out, receive some back and in the meantime wait to hear the echoes of enthusiasm from outside...
Your desk is your fortress, your computer is your only interface to your team...
Looks like an extreme example, but I've seen enough people sitting two meters from each other vigorously exchanging e-mails over and over, when a 2 minute face to face discussion would have solved the whole problem. I've seen enough managers, who hide their fear or anxiety to face the person they would like to address behind an e-mail believing that this is the easier way or the right way. They remain hidden, unknown and unavailable to their teams. They have no presence and are shadowed by the walls they have built around themselves. They do not participate in the life of the group, they do not hear its heartbeat and cannot touch its pulse. Therefore – they are simply not part of this living organism.
But there is more to the problem than just this. The interpretation of the written words without important and in this case vital aids like intonation and body language, becomes a hostage of the readers' current emotional state. In other words – we can write one thing and the person reading might understand something completely different. How many examples can you think of an e-mail communication that has gone wrong? Where the words were interpreted wrongly and the actual attitude was taken not in the intended way? Wasn't that followed with more e-mails with excuses, clarifications and explanations? More importantly – what was the value received?
And how about receiving feedback about the emotional state of the recipient? The reader might be really furious, disappointed or frustrated with your e-mail but how will you understand that from a reply like "Thank you" or "Ok, I will do it until the deadline"? The tension might build up and then blow up in a situation that is as complicated as it was unnecessary in the first place.
I think you get the picture of what it is to be an E-mail Manager now. A manager detached from the team they lead, with no or very limited information about its members. A manager that can't see, hear, feel and understand. A manager that often complains to colleagues that despite the many mails that were sent the problem is still not resolved. A manager with many problems.
A manager that can barely Manage, let alone Lead.
Let us not be that guy!
Best regards,

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