Management Style

Watchmaker or Beekeeper? It makes a HUGE difference.

Low morale, low profits, lack of staff engagement, high turnover, rampant gossip – all these problems can be attributed to a company that’s being led by either a Watchmaker or a Beekeeper. Care to guess which is the type of leader whose company suffers these troubles?

If you guessed Watchmaker, you’re right. Why?

Watchmakers, as they’re called in James Fischer’s book, Navigating the Growth Curve, are people who want predictability, things they can control. They want to run their business like a precision machine. They believe that for a machine to be effective, it must be precisely controlled by its operators. This, they believe, is the overarching purpose of management – to control the enterprise. They further believe that the machine exists for a purpose conceived of by its builders – to make as much money as possible for its owners.

Nothing wrong with making money, but research suggests that to create an enterprise that provides sustainable profits over the long term, the better approach lies in becoming more of a Beekeeper.

Beekeepers have one foot in the future. They’re more naturally adept at coping with the dangerous sisters of growth: complexity and chaos. Beekeepers are more likely to let the intelligence of the team or “hive” be the operator instead of themselves. They understand that their business is a living, intelligent organism – like a beehive – that, if allowed, will produce far more ideas and solutions than they ever could alone. The Beekeeper’s business will continually self-organize around and work through its various problems and challenges.

Beekeepers capitalize on the intelligence and know-how of their staff. They understand that trying to control them causes anger, hostility and disengagement, creating a downward spiral. But such a spiral can easily be reversed by simply asking for the staff’s input.

This is a lesson that each of us leaders can’t seem to learn often enough. Seems more of us are Watchmakers than Beekeepers. Why? Too many leaders today believe they’re supposed to know all the answers … that to ask for input – for help! – might make employees think less of them. Somewhere, somehow, they’ve come to believe they must appear to be Superman – or Wonder Woman. So ego wins over intellect. And when ego wins, who loses? The company!

There is a Beekeeper in all of us, but in our day-to-day struggles to “do the right thing,” be “responsible” and “act like a leader,” the Watchmaker steps in and takes over more often than is healthy. This demoralizes everyone else. And that’s what sets the company up for low morale, lack of staff engagement, high turnover, rampant gossip and – ultimately – low profits.

Now that you know the difference, practice being a Beekeeper and minimize the time you spend as a Watchmaker. It will empower your staff and reward you, the leader.

Eure Consulting can help you transition to a full time Beekeeper. Don’t waste one more day stuck as a Watchmaker. Call us today.

Eure Consulting