The A to Z of Management Temper

Nandini Vaidynathan tells us how one can inculcate management temper; and the composition behind the idea

What is management temper? Why does one need it, if at all? Is it different from scientific temper? We can get nit-picky and argue that the two are different. But if we cut to the chase, they both refer to the same thing that is, our attitude of taking all facts on board, letting facts and logic guide our decision-making.

The next logical question then is, can management temper be cultivated or is it that one is born with it? I refuse to believe that a matter as mission-critical as this is subject to the caprice of DNA. In the 45 odd years that I have flogged myself, both as a corporate professional and as an entrepreneur, there is one divine revelation that I have had and that is management temper can be cultivated because essentially it is a composite of diverse skill-sets. Not in any concerted fashion, but fairly scientifically (employing tools of scientificity such as observation, iteration, variation, induction and deduction) I have identified many skill sets that individually can be enhanced, collectively can be embellished and overall made to inculcate a management temper that works in the pulsating psyche of an organisation. I am happy to share my learning here.

What is a skill? The simplest and best definition is the dictionary one, ‘ability to do something well’. In other words, demonstrating a certain level of ease and comfort, using minimal resources that comes with expertise.

Somehow in management, the word skill has been associated more with ‘doing’ than with ‘thinking’. Examples are, he’s a skilful coder, she’s a highly skilled negotiator. Whilst there is brain power behind both statements, the skill refers to the doing rather than mental math.

Having lived and worked in 63 countries over 40 years, I have learnt that skill, like attitude is cognitive. So I am going to put together the few cognitive skills that I have identified over the years, in no particular order of importance, that go to make up management temper:

Regurgitation: this refers to the act of going over and over again in one’s mind the problem on hand and with each time, there is excitement, agitation, churning and filtering, so much so that it leads to what I call the ‘threadbare solution’, that is a logical resolution of the problem without conditional clauses and fancy frills.

Visualisation: I am not an architect, nor am I a trained interior decorator but give me a blank space and literally in a jiffy I can visualise how I can ‘dress’ up the room. This is paradoxical because if you give me the measurements of the room, I simply can’t visualise the space at all. For instance if you said to me, it’s a large room, 120/50 ft, it means nothing to me. I have extrapolated this visual skill very many times in doing up my office spaces, hiring people of talent (seeing potential before they see it), plotting facts, interlinking them and going beyond obvious connections, to great success.

Number-crunching: this is an obvious one, those great with numbers may not have the same facility with words, but I have seen many with a middling balance of both, neither skill present in abundance.

Creativity: this again is an obvious one. I remember I got chided by my boss once that every problem does not require a ‘creative’ solution. The example he gave me was, if your shoe is new and pinches your foot, the obvious solution is to wear socks and that works. You don’t have to ‘creatively’ modify the shoe!

Wordiness: again an obvious one, someone who is a master at choosing just the most perfect word to describe a situation. People with this skill are puppeteers with words. They evoke, invoke, produce a world which they want you to see, and they have the skill to make you see it, even if it is not your natural skill.

Viewfinder: these are the silent observers who are obsessed with training the telescope on everything and everybody. Seeing is all they do. It is a highly underestimated skill because if only we gave importance to what they see, and we learnt how to see what they see, the insights gathered could fundamentally change the way we look at ourselves and our relation to the world.

Socratic: teacher par excellence. People with this skill should be entrusted in carrying on the values and the legacy of the organisation.

Scriptory: this is a skill for recording by documentation everything that happens in an organisation. The Socratic penchant for ‘teaching’ combined with this skill for documenting creates the best archives for an organisation to refer to, the best knowledge bank as it were, from time to time. Each of this is a complex skill in itself. I don’t think everyone has all the skills. I also don’t think there is anyone with none of these skills. Each of us has an affinity to our natural set of skills and identifying them early in life does two things. It helps you consciously embellish them and it helps you train yourself in those which you lack. I have always maintained that it is the organisations’ responsibility to make each employee not just who he is but who he is capable of becoming. That is the process of inculcating this management temper

The columnist has commenced her fourth professional avatar with her bakery and restaurant business in Jaipur ( with her French Michelin-star chef life partner. Email:


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