<!-- 18. --> Leadership in Management


Will managers become extinct?

Many people are naturally disturbed by any discussion that raises the basic worth and value of their job or role. But some organizational commentators have indeed been arguing that many managerial jobs as we currently know them face extinction. Of course the truth is probably somewhere in between. There will probably always be a need for managers who are involved in activities that involve setting direction and shaping the future of organizations. At the same time in large enter­prises there will always be a need for some people to provide some form of direction and co-ordination at an operational level.

Yet it also seems clear that there will be a reduced need for the sorts of managers that we have had in our past organizations. Accelerating advancements in communications and information technology are enabling organizations to radically rethink their internal processes and structures. Technology is allowing work to be executed anywhere – location is becoming less of an issue. IT and back office functions are being outsourced to all corners of the globe. New information technology systems also allow people to work without the need for close manage­rial supervision.

Against this background any future manager in any organization might reflect on the following questions:

Are you placing too much emphasis on securing a management role? – after all it is only a title.

What do you do besides telling people what to do?

How do you add real value to the organization?

If you lost your management role tomorrow what would you do? What could you do?

Would you be better to hold onto your technical skill set rather than migrate to the world of management?

In the future, technical, market, customer or information technology skills may well serve us better than any simple set of managerial skills. Any role including management is simply a function of how an organ­ization or business chooses to operate. Most customers have no interest in how you organize your business, they only want the right product or service at the right price.

So what is the new management skill set?

Managers in the future will be judged more on their ability to align and motivate people. The need to deliver results will remain paramount but managers will increasingly need to deliver on both measures – business results and people management. Managers who achieve results at the expense of people will be increasingly marginalized.

Managers wanting to use the Adair and Hersey models will need to get into the Individual, Team and Delegating spheres of activity. Encouraging people to become self sufficient and to work under their own powers of motivation will be the guiding force. Listening and putting people at the centre of competitive activity will become critical management endeav­ours. This will require managers who are comfortable in operating without the trappings of existing organization life. People skills are in!

The need to develop new and radical approaches to managing is not borne out of a sense of well-being towards people. It is a case of economic survival! The fact is, if I can operate with two layers of management and you need five I will kill you on costs. Plus, I will get my new products and services into the market place faster. Whereas you have to get them through all that bureaucracy, game playing and politics. So good luck and watch out that the competi­tion don’t innovate you out of existence.

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