Dear Manager,

Consider the balance of power in a buyer-seller relationship. It’s rarely discussed, it’s simply understood. Historically, one person is in ultimate control, making all the final decisions. I believe there has been a similar balance of power in a manager-managee relationship. Don’t look now, but management and this relationship have changed! We are far more interdependent than at any time in the past.

Today’s strong management is about sharing the responsibilities and the rewards. All members of an organization hold a greater level of accountability. Anything less… and there is no organization.

I considered my role as a manager to be much less than it once was. We hold very little power without the strength of those around us. This position of ultimate power is diminishing at an accelerating rate. Don’t be confused. The balance of power is shifting. We can’t be intimidated by it, we must understand it and find its own rewards.

My memories go back to long before technology took on the role it plays today in all of our lives. In those days, my peers were the customers and our manufacturers. Staff members and field sales associates received their direction from me. This was also a time when our organization was a third of the size it would develop to.

The current layer of field sales management support from our factories did not yet exist. In addition, the only functions provided by computers were invoice entry and manufacturers’ commission statements Annual goals were established by each of our factories for our entire region. As long as we achieved this single number, we were heroes.

In those days, I might have had problems with sales in multiple regions, yet as long as the total region’s sales objectives were achieved, no one seemed to react, or be aware! Once our office was computerized, the information relating to sales was very revealing. For a time, I was aware of sales deficiencies long before our manufacturers. This was a huge advantage. I had the flexibility to solve issues long before they became a specific concern of the manufacturer.

The 90’s changed all of this. This is when the balance of power began its shift. Soon computer-generated reports were spewing from my factories’ computers. Field sales managers appeared frequently to review the reports with our associates and me. The window of opportunity to close the barn door before the cows got out had been seriously diminished.

Additionally, our sales associates were developing much stronger working relationships with their factories. The power continued its shift. In many cases, these strong rep-manufacturer working relationships were a significant benefit to the organization. Over time, these newly developed ties took on much greater meaning.

I now had support from the factories in the management of our organization. All parties now took issues that were considered “only mine” in the past much more seriously. Can you feel the shift in power? I must admit, I needed and appreciated all of the support, as long as it was consistent with my own voice.

My conversations with my managers were now much more specific in nature, as I could no longer “hide” challenging, unresolved territories and issues. This sword was double edged, as it made me a better manager in addition to bringing significant pressure to respond in a timely manner.

With all this additional information and tools, our staff and sales associates were faced with facts, many of them for the first time. Some members were unable to survive this transition. Those who replaced them, along with those who persevered and survived, were now much more professional than their predecessors. We would all need to be better in this world of technology.

I soon began to adjust to the transformation of balance. Quality drives confidence. Doing so is a direct reflection of the distinction of individuals that I enjoyed working with in my organization. It is also a balance that is consistent with, and critical to, our successful business relationships in the future. Along with the changes in the balance of power comes a new balance of responsibility. With this transition, the single adjustment I looked for from my associates was their own ability to:


Before we can ask others to think like a manager we must be willing to perceive them as a manager. None of us will master our objectives without truly assuming full responsibility for our present and our future. This includes full responsibility and empowerment for the decisions relating to their business. As their manager, we continue to have every right to know their plan.

In the past, there may have been no plan. This strategy, or lack of one, will no longer suffice. Good management requires all its members to create a vision for continued growth. Without growth, there is no need for management. Without management there can be no need for anyone to manage.

This suggests that more than at any previous time, we’re in this thing together. There was a time when management’s role was to be a thorn in the side of those they managed. A lot of hand holding and babysitting is required in this form of management. This is truly old news and, in today’s world, demeaning to both parties.

As technology continues to assist us in the management of our territories, this is no place for the faint of heart. The advances in productivity alone will challenge us to produce at an even greater rate per workday than ever before.

My associates have proven the ability to do what I did twenty years ago, often better than I did. All have assumed a role that they deserve, as managers of their sales regions. This is now a fact of doing business in the twenty-first century. Those associates who choose to live in the past, abdicating power due to lack of interest or effort, will not survive. Management of dictatorship heritage will no longer retain first-rate professionals. The management/managee relationship has become, without question, a partnership.


As managers, we must continue to relinquish a portion of our power for the good of the organization, let alone our own peace of mind. In doing so, we also relinquish an equal share of the responsibility for our collective success. This certainly sounds like a good trade off to me! The balance of power is now very clear and, more so than ever in the past, it is in balance.

Personal Regards.


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