The ideas from Vandendriessche and Clement in their book Leading without commanding (originally: Leidinggeven zonder bevelen) teach leaders and managers to govern for results by embedding their employees with the right responsibilities.

The core insight offered by their model the management funnel  is as simple as it is fundamental: It is the operational employees who can achieve operational excellence, not the manager or leader. A leader should ‘sell’ problems, rather than formulate or even implement their own solutions. This is illustrated in the management funnel underneath.

Management funnel

Everything above the blue line depicts the managerial domain (output). The area below the blue line depicts the domain of the professional entrusted to come up with their own solutions (input), within the criteria given by the manager. This still requires the employee to agree to the proposed criteria.

The art of leadership is to avoid dictating solutions and instead steer the employees towards achieving the agreed-upon goals (output). This becomes increasingly more difficult for leaders with extensive knowledge of- and experience with the operational processes. Being able to focus on goals and criteria rather than solutions creates provides peace of mind by the leaders and – not unimportant – trust, space, commitment, motivation, and responsibility among operational employees/professionals.

With several experiential assignments, we allow (aspiring) executives to discover and experiment with steering towards goals rather than towards solutions.

Incidentally, the management funnel does not only apply to leadership training. Interested in other implementations? Contact us!

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