The Changing World of Management and Leadership

The Changing World of Management and Leadership

This is the first in a series of blogs that I am publishing on my website. The intention is to share experience and perceptions of the changing world of Management and Leadership.  The content is based on my years of experience working with many individuals and organisations around the world. I welcome your comments.

Please note – this material is subject to international copyright and intellectual property protection laws.

The Changing Role of  Managers and  Leaders in the present business climate

By Robert Hersowitz Management Consultant and Management Development Specialist from MDI.  October 2010

Over the past thirty years I have spent thousands of hours coaching and training potential leaders and managers.  Since I first began my career as a Management Development Consultant and Business Coach, I have seen many changes. In the last five years it seems as if these changes have consolidated into a trend that will continue into the next decade at least.

So what is the difference between being a Manager or a Leader now compared with twenty or thirty years ago? In my opinion – the roles of Manager and Leader have merged.  In the years gone by – these roles were treated quite separately.  This was due to hierarchical organisation structures and the concept of “line management”.  What has changed in recent history is the whole idea of organisations becoming delayered, flatter and a more a series of loosely connected project teams serving the interests of fast changing internal and external customer needs. In this regard Managers now need to be not only good at managing – but also at leading. What does this mean? Well – if we consider the word “management” – it has it’s roots in the latin word  “man” (mano in modern Italian). The word implies “hands on” or practical – doing, making it happen. The term Leadership is associated with ideas, strategies, conceptual thinking, goals and missions. In the old days – Leaders were the CEO and the Board of Directors who were responsible for formulating the future direction of the organisation. To some extent this is still the case. Leaders do set the vision – they do articulate the mission and work on the Big Picture. On the other hand the degree and speed of change has created a very different reality within organisations. The idea of a CEO or Director being omnipotent  – knowing everything and being able to solve every problem or make every decision is no longer feasible or possible. Organisational life has become highly complex with new technology revolutionising the way we think, plan and deliver work.  Organisations have become reliant on newly educated, highly trained experts who know more about the work than their bosses. In many organisations that I have worked with, those working at the “coal face” often know more about the work and even future trends for the business than many of their superiors. This is because they have day to day contact and exposure to clients, suppliers,  products and services.  They are no longer simply delivering work objectives – they have to solve problems and come up with creative solutions even to the extent of contributing to the strategic direction of the organisation. In this regard the buzzword of the decade is ALIGNMENT. What is ALIGNMENT? It is the conscious process on the part of the organisation to integrate the efforts of all individuals in the organisation no matter where they are or what their status is. Everyone should be connected to the same goal or organisation mission at all times. This is quite difficult to achieve and relies on effective communication – both in terms of the human ability to communicate and also the deployment of effective tools such as email, team web spaces and the intranet. An added challenge of the modern age is the phenomenon of distributed workers – people who are managed and lead from a distance. These are people who work remotely – dispersed across the country or even the globe!  Many of these remote collaborators are not even formally employed by the organisation but are rather engaged as temporary members of a virtual team. They will very often be managed by a remote manager or team leader in a different location or country. The job of managing such a team requires very different skills to that of a conventional manager. Here the manager has to have leadership capabilities. He or she has to be able to take the initiative and inspire the team even from a distance. Without the regular day to day face to face contact with team members, the manager has to rely on excellent communications skills to reinforce alignment and make sure that all members of the team are “singing from the same strategic hymn sheet”! Remote managers  have to be able to represent the interests of the team or teams to higher levels within the organisation. They also have  to gather information and co-ordinate information and feedback which can then be used to implement continuous improvement.  One key set of skills that belong more in the Leadership Camp than in Management Camp – is the challenge of Managing Change. Change is the one “given” common denominator  that is present in most organisations around the world whether in the public sector or in the private sector. Although there are many elements of managing change that require precise organising capability (the job of a manager) – there is also a strong demand for good leadership or “stewardship” through the change including leadership skills connected to Emotional Intelligence. In addition – Change Management requires managers to think and act proactively – to take the initiative, be resourceful and apply creativity to their thinking especially when solving problems and deciding on solutions.

Finally – Leaders too have to adapt their leadership profiles and embrace some of the generic management skills. They need to be able to collaborate with managers by being able to extrapolate their ideas into SMART objectives which will be understood and implemented by the managers. They need to engage with managers in establishing effective team norms, managing boundaries associated with  time, finance, material and human resources.  Above all – they must demonstrate capabilities to be good Finishers and Delegators – ensuring that the Mission, Goal and Vision are achieved through delivering measurable results for which their managers are responsible but for which they are accountable to stakeholders and shareholders.

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Content was very useful - good introduction to theories, balanced with lots of practical learning'

'Robert was a very skilled trainer/presenter- good mix of delivery/listening and very helpful and knowledgeable'

'Good introduction...Content was very useful, theories were balanced with lots of practical learning' 'Robert was a very skilled trainer, there was a good mix of delivering and learning on his behalf'

'Very knowledgeable'

'It provided useful tools and has put things in context. Very practical - he really knows his stuff!'

Wouter Van EE, Head of Business Operations, Panasonic Mobile Communications Development of Europe Ltd

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