Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The dawn of the business enabler

It’s a manager’s responsibility to ensure that s/he is ready to meet the needs and demands of the future.  None more so than having the skills that they will require in order to continue to perform their job highly effectively.

Which begs the question: ‘what will those skills be?’

Many would argue that the core skills that a manager needs to perform his or her job effectively have remained pretty constant over a long time.  Over the last 50 years there’s been a clear transition from a management style which was predominantly authoritative (often inherited from the military), through times of significant industrial conflict, to the far more consultative, participative, co-operative approach with which we are now familiar.  Whilst this is significant change, it is perhaps more a change in style and tone than a fundamental skill-set change.

However, there are those, myself included, that take the view that managerial skills will change dramatically over the next decade:

Quality of managerial skills

In an ever increasingly competitive world, good managers are already vital to a business’s survival.  For a business to excel, ‘good’ is no longer good enough: the requirement is for managers who are ‘exceptional’.   And, by definition, there aren’t many of those around.

The current reality is that most managers are frankly pretty average. There are some who are good, but only very few are really outstanding. Whilst the average manager may have been able to get away with it in the past, those days are numbered and they certainly won’t survive in the future.

The types of people who, predominantly through social media, we currently consider to be leadership gurus and role-models, need to become commonplace in tomorrow’s world.  To achieve such a transition though will require a) much better, more universal, and preferably obligatory training and development of managers, and b) attitude change.   What I mean by ‘attitude change’ is that managers will need to completely accept and understand the importance of their impact on the success of the people who work for them, and truly want to excel as a business leader and people manager – putting it as their no 1 priority. This attitude change will lead to much greater success than that achievable from simply learning new management techniques – outstanding leadership comes from both the heart and the head.

Application of managerial skills

We’re already seeing glimpses of the future shape of things in some leading-edge (from a management and cultural perspective) companies.  Broadly, in the present day, depending on which theory of leadership you prefer, the most commonly adopted style of the application of managerial skills is ‘consultative’.  Moving further along the continuum is ‘participative’ and then 'democratic'.

However, I envisage that the style that has to become common-place over the next decade is what I call ‘enablerative’.  This is a hybrid fusion of consultative, participative and democratic, where the manager’s role no longer needs or has any authoritative power.

Managers will become highly professional enablers rather than just managers or bosses. This will require new skills as no longer will a manager be able to rely on the power derived from a vertically orientated position on the organisational chart.

But then the quality of people they recruit and the culture they propagate will mean that they have no need for authoritative power.  Their role will be to maximise the effectiveness and success of the people in the team of which they are part (note it’s not ‘their’ team).  Indeed it will be common place that others in the team may be paid more than the enabler, and the word ‘manager’ with respect to people responsibility will have become redundant.






Perhaps your organisation is already like this – if so please let us know.


Or you think this is pie in the sky, an academic’s pipedream – please share your views with us by commenting below.







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