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  • Writer's pictureMark O'Neil

McGinn's 25 Laws of Management

As they say: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!”

Many years ago, we bought our home on Hilton Head Island with an eye toward retiring here. One of the reasons for our choice was that a friend and colleague, Peter McGinn, also planned on retiring on the island. Pete had succeeded me at United Health Services, and was starting a consulting business that I hoped to be a part of. He was a clinical psychologist, a human resources professional, and a healthcare CEO. He was also a very decent man.

In 2009, the CEO role at Hilton Head Regional Healthcare opened up. I was selected for the job, and was immediately excited to call Pete and tell him that I would be in Hilton Head even sooner than expected. But by August of that year, Pete had passed. He was stricken with Amyloidosis, a nearly always fatal disease.

Pete wrote a couple of leadership books as a strategic thinker. He also spent many years putting together the “McGinn’s laws of management.” Our days together on the Finger Lakes Trail in upstate New York were often spent discussing (and arguing) over these laws of management. The other day, as I thought of him, I read through them again:

  1. It’s all about human beings being human.

  2. People work very hard to preserve their images of themselves.

  3. Most people forget most of what they hear, almost right away.

  4. The best leaders lead from their hearts, minds, and souls.

  5. Learn from the lessons of your own experience.

  6. Do the right thing.

  7. There is no right way. Your job is to choose the option whose negative consequences you are best able to live with at the time.

  8. If everyone is doing it, it is the wrong thing, or it is too late.

  9. Thinking is a competitive advantage, because so few people do it.

  10. Show complex ideas with pictures. Think multi-dimensionally.

  11. Spend time on what is important, not just urgent.

  12. Power is a lot more than mere authority, and empowerment is a lot more than just delegation.

  13. Listening depends on respect for the ideas and feelings of others.

  14. Treat others the way that they would like to be treated — not the way you would like to be treated (the Platinum rule).

  15. Beware of what you incent or reward. You may get it.

  16. Build on strengths — yours and others’.

  17. If you are not the bus driver, then drive from the back of the bus.

  18. Seek out people different from yourself.

  19. Effective groups use the assets of the members; neither too much or too little.

  20. A bad decision made by a group is still a bad decision, even if everyone likes it. A good decision is not a good decision, if no one accepts it.

  21. All group members share responsibility for the success of the group.

  22. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. However, not everything that counts can be measured.

  23. You are your primary management tool. Take good care of yourself.

  24. The shortest distance between two people is not always a straight line.


Pete’s 25th rule of management is perhaps the most poignant. As Pete himself shows, life can be very short. We would all do well to take a little more time to smell the roses around us.

For a laminated bookmark copy of McGinn’s laws of management, send me your mailing address, and I will make sure you get one.

109 views2 comments

2 kommentarer

02 sep. 2019

I still have the copy of McGinn's 25 Rules that Pete gave me . . .


24 juni 2019

Thanks for the blog posts. Keep them coming!

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