wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Chester Barnard (1886-1961)chester barnard


American business executive and expert on management (pictured right).



Key book


The Functions of the Executive (1938)

(see for more detail The Functions of the Executive in the Business Books section)


The functions of an executive are:


1. Defining purpose

An organization’s success (or effectiveness) depends on building great relationships with customers, suppliers, creditors and employees.


2. Co-operation

Making sure:

  • people work well together. 
  • their activities are effectively co-ordinated to achieve the organization’s objectives.


3. Persuasion

This is a much more important motivator than money.

Barnard defined efficiency as satisfying employees’ motives or needs.

So people must be:

  • treated with respect
  • given interesting work.


4. Communication

People must communicate well throughout the organization.

Formal communication through the hierarchy is supported by informal contacts.

An executive’s orders must be legitimate and moral, or they won’t be accepted.


5. Moral action

To lead effectively executives (and their people) must believe that what is good for the organization is personally right for them.

Managers must make sure that people with responsibility have:

  • technical ability.
  • the ability to deal with conflicting moral demands (e.g. to family, religion and organization)


Key quotes on leadership and management

The inculcation of belief in the real existence of a common purpose is an essential executive function.

The endurance of organizations depends upon the quality of leadership and that quality derives from the breadth of the morality upon which it rests.


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