How does your company smell?

Like a fresh spring forest or like a sweltering metropolis?

The late Sumantra Ghoshal asks that of the World Economic Forum in this YouTube video, not with the goal of putting businesses to the nose test but rather as a way of illustrating how we should look at management, and less at changing people but changing the context around people.

His assertion is that management often crafts a workplace that resembles Calcutta, India, in July, stifling and constraining. He urges us to move to a management framework that parallels the freshness and energy of a springtime forest in Fontainebleau, France.

He contrasts the style of ‘management exists to control me’ with the style of ‘top management creates an exciting set of values.’

The former he characterizes as constraint, compliance, control, and contract with the latter characterized as stretch, discipline, trust, and support.

His statements resonate, it is up to management to ensure the workplace is one of “aggressive ambition” and not one in which it is a chore to labor under stifling strictures.

In short, you have to ask yourself ‘does my management style stink?’