#41 Guru Hamza Khan: Stop Managing, Start Leading
November 30, 2021
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In the last two weeks at a marketing agency job, Hamza Khan turned up early every morning and watched movie marathons: The Godfather, The Lord of the Rings… And best of all, he’d get praised by his manager for it.

“I passed by his desk at 5:00 p.m., and he goes like this, ‘Hamzah, great job!’ I literally sat there for eight hours, and I watched movies. I did nothing, but that was enough for my boss. And I swore, from that moment onwards, I’d never be managed again.”

Through Khan’s struggles with managers and being managed, he discovered a paradox that plagues the corporate world. He dubs it “The Management Paradox,” and it goes like this:


Growing organizations require management


People don’t like to be managed


And that leads us to an essential question for today’s business owners.


Can (or Even Should) Millennials Be Managed?

Generation Y has been called many things: lazy, entitled, selfish. But Millenials are also far more versatile, entrepreneurial, and agile than their predecessors. “So why is it that so many of us are still being managed like we work in factories?” Khan queries.

Even back in the mid 20th century, business thinkers like Peter Drucker (who coined the phrase “knowledge work”) were already beginning to realize that the old model of management, formed in the forges of the Industrial Revolution, was outdated.

So why are we still running businesses in a top-down way?


“Tradition is Easy, Tradition is Comforting, and Tradition is Ultimately Limited”

Tradition, as Kahn notes, strikes a death knell for innovation, and he makes a strong argument as to why we shouldn’t do things just because it’s the way it’s always been done. He encourages business owners and team leaders to adopt a “Theory Y” approach.

“Theory Y assumes that employees are ambitious, that they’re self-motivated, that they exercise self-control, and that they actually enjoy their physical and mental duties. And that, given the proper conditions, an employer operating within the theory Y framework can actually help their employees achieve.”

What matters more than clocking hours in the office is that the quality work that needs to get done gets done.


Be Someone Who Leads Others

So, where does that leave the traditional manager? Under Theory Y, they transform into a leader. They’re someone who understands the “fundamental difference between outcomes and outputs,” says Khan.

Khan’s own experience proves this: in his early 20s, he gave agency to the young teams he managed, channeling the leadership prowess of none other than rapper Jay-Z, who single-handedly built one of the most successful record labels of our time by nurturing individual talent.

So how did he go from this to, in 2016 at least, leading his fifth successful creative team and working with some of the world’s biggest brands right off the bat?


Focus on Your Best Self First

Ultimately, Khan believes that “if you want to do your best work, if you want your team to do their best work, you have to bring out the best in yourself.”

The role of a manager in the 21st century is to provide a meaningful experience for the end-user or consumer and their employees or team. So instead of simply managing the people under you, it’s time to channel that inner leader.

“What is the role of management for the next generation? Absolutely nothing. How are we gonna break out of this catch-22? How will we dismantle this paradox? How will we stop doing things the way they’ve always been done? We’re just gonna stop managing altogether.”


Based on Hamza Khan’s criteria, do you consider yourself an inspiring team leader? Or are you frantically thinking of ways to revamp your management style after watching this video?

Share your thoughts and this article on your socials. And if you need more advice, be sure to browse the other marketing guru insights on this page.