Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some Things I Learned at the Academy of Management

Worth mentioning: the title above originally was missing the word, "Some," until I realized that would make for a blog post even more ridiculously long than usual.

The Academy of Management, admittedly grandiosely named, is the world's preeminent association for those interested in management and its study. Although the majority of the organization's membership is academics - professors, deans, students, and the like - a healthy chunk of the membership is made up of actual managers. You know, people who run businesses and have management positions in what we laughingly call "the real world." Go figure.

This weekend the Academy had its annual meeting, (or rather, Meeting, as they frame it) and I had the honor of both attending and presenting my paper on authentic leadership (for a bit of the logic behind the paper I presented, check this old post). Here are a few things I learned this weekend, in bullet-point format as you guys seem to like that format...
  • A hotter dry heat (a la San Antonio) is way cooler than a merely hot but wet heat (a la Louisiana).
  • Speaking of Louisiana, I must miss it more than I realize. When I encountered a huge map of the United States carved into the cement at my feet, I had a sudden irresistible urge to go stand in Louisiana and wave to my friends.
  • Northerners whine an awful lot about dry heat.
  • Every now and then, you really do run into a male Professor with a tweed jacket and leather elbow patches smoking a pipe. However, even when you do, he won't answer to the name of Plum.
  • The more an employee sees a manager as representing the parent organization, the more supported overall that employee will feel.
  • Measured as an overall percentage, there are far more snotty, snobby, uppity, and generally unpleasant lower, middle, and upper level managers than there are similarly unpleasant management professors. I find this ironic, as the professors are generally smarter than the managers (usually, but not always!), and so would actually have more of a right to be snobbish.
  • If two people argue about how to complete a task, that may be a bad thing as far as actually getting that task done. On the other hand, if the two people are friends, that argument will almost always be a good thing.
  • If you're sitting at a table with all seats full, and a lady walks up to the table, chivalry demands you offer her your seat. Now, that wasn't new to me; what was new to me was that doing this can sometimes lead the aforementioned female to discuss a highly desirable research collaboration with you.
  • People take you more seriously when they notice from your nametag that you're with Georgia Tech. I'm both pleased and disappointed by that. Hopefully you can figure out why.
  • Early empirical studies show that authentic leadership is less effective for women, because people unfairly expect it of them anyway.
  • The editor of the Journal of Management is one hell of a funny guy.
  • If you walk into a sparsely populated committee meeting, even as a student, don't be surprised if you're suddenly offered a leadership position.
  • The question, "Do I make an impact?" is interesting but not important.
  • The question, "How can I make a better impact?" is both interesting and important.
  • There is a surprisingly large contingent of Christian management scholars... and they're not all from BYU, either.
  • If your manager supports work-life balance, odds are you have better work-life balance. If your coworkers are supportive of work-life balance, odds are you have worse work-life balance, since you probably spend a lot of time helping other people balance their own work and life.
  • There is a surprisingly large contingent of management scholars interested in positive organizational scholarship... the study of building strengths and capabilities in organizations, instead of our usual study of deviance, abusive supervision, and admittedly more realistic modern management - what my friend and colleague Elliott correctly calls "the Dark Side."
  • Some studies have shown that the size of your signature is an indicator of your self-esteem. Other studies propose that the size of your signature is relatively meaningless.
  • People in San Antonio don't know how to spell "Boudreaux." Honestly, 'Budro'?
  • My colleagues at Tech are beautiful people. I wish I fit in better.
  • Especially Kerry, now that I think of it. I wonder if she's still reading this blog?
  • More people-oriented leadership has a positive impact on knowledge-sharing and innovation, whereas solely task-oriented leadership may not have any impact on it at all.
  • It's very difficult to understand academic presentations when the presenter keeps unconsciously switching back and forth between English and, say, Spanish or Chinese.
  • There's a Raising Cane's in the San Antonio airport!!! Ah, sweet sauce....
  • Academics are surprisingly tolerant of serious analogies using characters from The Office and the Muppet Show.
  • Even after two hours discussing authentic leadership, I still can't figure out the answer to the following question: "A great authentic leader is tremendously unexcited about a new corporate product launch, but he knows he needs to present it enthusiastically to his team anyway. What does he do?"
  • I used to spend anywhere from 45 minutes to a full day going over topics I could have reviewed in 15 minutes. Now I have to spend less than 15 minutes going over topics that I really need anywhere from 45 minutes to a full day to seriously discuss.
  • Top management scholars don't really care what Kenny Chesney is up to these days.
  • There seems to be a general agreement that management professors do a poor job of properly preparing their students to make the world a better place and be worthwhile, decent businesspeople... but there's a peculiar reluctance to actually do anything about it.
  • Absolutely nothing of interest comes up if you do a Google Image search for "Academy of Management Humor." "Professor humor" is a little better.


  1. Here's the thing about the Raising Cane's in the San Antonio airport. There are no other Raising Cane's in San Antonio. It mocks me when I'm in the city but can't partake in it's yummy goodness because I can't cross security just because I need chicken fingers and cane sauce.

    This is the closest Cane's to me as there are none in Austin (seriously -- there are a billion LSU alumni here who would flock to one if it opened). The next closest is in Waco, which I try to avoid.

  2. "A great authentic leader is tremendously unexcited about a new corporate product launch, but he knows he needs to present it enthusiastically to his team anyway. What does he do?"

    Take an acting class!

    Sometimes you have to set aside being "authentic" for a few moments in order to get your job done :) In the process, you might actually find yourself becoming excited about what you're presenting. Going through the motions in the way you want or need to be can bring about surprising changes in the way you actually are.

    This has been deep thoughts, with Kristy K. N., who still reads your blog.

  3. Came across this blog. Just throwing it out there, there's a Raising Cane's in Athens, GA. . .