UMass Amherst Management Expert Extols Superleadership, a Model Based on Teams

AMHERST, Mass. - Charles C. Manz, author, researcher, and Nirenberg Professor of Business Leadership at the University of Massachusetts, says management methods that focus on leaders at the expense of followers are obsolete. In today’s fast-moving world economy, business leadership has to come from all parts of a successful organization, Manz says, because, "Ultimately, the best and probably the only real leadership comes from within each person."

That’s the basis for Manz’s philosophy of SuperLeadership. He calls for a system where business managers at all levels work to create teams of individuals, each of whom is a leader, instead of relying on coercion, intimidation, rewards, or dazzling their workers with visionary zeal. By cultivating many leaders, Manz argues, a company is supported not on a single pillar of one leader, but on countless strong pillars strengthened and encouraged by a SuperLeader.

In this broad-based leadership model, Manz says, the focus shifts from the leader to the followers, and from top-down command systems to more horizontal team systems which create independent followers willing and able to make decisions, be creative, and feel vested in their work. "We are seeking not to create a few heroic leaders, but a whole company of heroic followers who become self-leaders," Manz says.

Manz joined the faculty of the UMass School of Management this summer and holds a permanent appointment as the first Nirenberg Professor of Business Leadership, an endowed chair funded by a $1-million gift from Charles and Janet Nirenberg. Charles Nirenberg is a UMass alumnus and founder of the Dairy Mart chain in New England.

Thomas O’Brien, dean of the School of Management, says Manz is a welcome addition to the faculty. "His arrival at the School of Management is important for two reasons," O’Brien says. "First, our students will benefit from hearing from someone who really knows what leadership is about. Second, his presence underscores the symbolism of the school’s first endowed chair, which is dedicated to business leadership."

Manz says, "Leadership is fundamental to any good school of management. At UMass, as we train business leaders, we have an opportunity to make an impact on what kind of leaders they will become."

Manz has already made an impact on the field through his extensive publications. He has written many journal articles and several books, including, "For Team Members Only," "Company of Heroes," "Business Without Bosses," and "SuperLeadership," which won the Stybel Peabody Prize for the best publication of the year in 1990. Before joining UMass, Manz taught at Arizona State University in Tempe.

He is a former Marvin Bower Fellow at the Harvard Business School. Manz has also served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and many journals, including the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, and the Journal of Management and Human Relations. In addition, Manz has had frequent contact with the national press and has been featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, and Fortune.