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Readers’ Digest was a household name for English readers when we were growing up. I am not sure if it is still published. But It is not a sensation anymore that it used to be. Later, when I could, I would buy a copy off and on and read it from back to back. I wondered why they called it ‘Digest’. In common English, Digesting was something else. Then I realized that it related to capsular or compressed form; that you would get many bits of information in one place.

Our enthusiasm for compressed forms has grown greatly over time. We compressed Test Cricket to ODI (50 overs each) to T-20 to T-10. We continuously see Apps on LinkedIn saying you could read a big book in seven minutes, so you could read seven books in a week. In one year, you would have read upward of 350 books and would be genuinely a well-read person. We have books like One Minute Manager which takes a lot of one-minutes to read. We have training courses which compress many years of learning in few hours. The Masterclasses are even better. You can pick up the entire mind of Master of Masters in a day.

Another phenomenon that has happened on the heels of the above is to find quick-fixes and rapid-solutions. From Wazeefas to Taweezat to Aamil-Babas to Herbs to Home-Remedies to Personal-Remedies to Special-Diets to Special-Exercises to Meditation-on-the-go to SMS to Tweets and what not. Our appetite for reducing everything to the bare minimum is insatiable.

The minimalistic approach is totally missing from some other things; for example, marriage ceremonies where the functions are growing in number and elaborate designing; for example, jewelry which is getting more and more complex in embellishments; for example, food where presentation and cost has risen astronomically.

We may summarize that we are minimizing the important things and maximizing the unnecessary things. This trend has led to several serious implications which may be taken up separately.

Reading in general has suffered in Pakistan like no other country, I guess. Technology came earlier to other countries and is pretty much advanced as compared to Pakistan, but the book reading did not get eliminated like there. Our aversion to reading is now total, consistent and probably irreversible. Our sources of learning are now limited (or expanded as we may like to say) to social media where quality is not a pre-requisite. Book business in Pakistan has dwindled to such an extent that my last visit to Ferozsons shop at DHA Lahore was truly heartbreaking.

I am not the type to lament on what was and is not. It is neither productive nor constructive. Life always moves forward and keeps changing and I recommend going along with it. This rather long preamble is to set scene for what I wish to present now.

I would like to profile a ‘Holistic Manager’ who is reasonably well-versed with all aspects of management and is an active practitioner of the same. Along the path, we shall trace changes, their likely reasons and triggers. We shall also see if we have plenty of Holistic Managers to run the show or not. The final part will be recommendations on how to become a Holistic Manager.

Need for Holistic Manager

Following points may favor the presence of Holistic Managers.

  1. The jobs in general are much more competitive and demanding now, as compared to what these used to be. The managers face new, unexpected challenges frequently and are required to take decisions by themselves. This requires understanding of the entire or most aspects of the job, people and environment. This is what being holistic means.
  2. The average age for becoming a manager has reduced over time. Management responsibilities come earlier along with the pressure to deliver. Previously, promotions were slow and performance pressures were much less. A half-formed manager shall not be able to deliver full performance; hence the need.
  3. The team members are much more judgmental now. They would like to assess if the proclaimed manager fits the requirements or not. A manager has to come up to expectations of the team members also.
  4. The average stay at one position is getting less. Before enough experience is gathered, one may have to move on. The slow growth of yesteryears gave enough time and seasoning to understand and assimilate management facets.
  5. Growth is mandatory; it is not optional. Only those who grow, stay alive; those who fail to grow on time are dropped along the route, sooner than later. It is akin to bacterial life; grow (by multiplying) or die. Obviously, no one would like to die. Those who are not motivated by incentive of growth are motivated by fear of redundancy.
  6. Training opportunities are variable as organizations neither universally believe in sponsored corporate training nor are willing to give time. You may have to learn on the fly and keep delivering meanwhile.
  7. Mentoring done by seniors has evaporated as a culture. Most seniors are not interested in mentoring anymore. They consider it babysitting and spoon feeding and refuse to do either. The standard reply to most queries from subordinates is to ‘go and manage please. Don’t ask me’.

The summary is that challenges are big, support is small, time is limited and pressure to deliver is enormous. An ordinary mortal as a manager is not likely to survive for long. A Holistic Manager stands a much better chance. Being Holistic applies both to self and the team.

Shall Continue, InshaAllah……



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