Often on our coaching and consultancy programmes, the discussions come round to new ways of thinking; that is, what do today’s managers do that yesterday’s managers didn’t?
It’s an intriguing question and one that would fill many books with the myriads of answers that could be given.
Many old-style managers still exist out there (Lord knows I’ve worked with most of them!) and they are still making decisions, solving problems and creating plans based on the old paradigm of management.
By the old paradigm, I’m referring to the old thought-processes that worked when people needed help, advice, recommendations and suggestions to do their job, enhance their motivation and drive their career prospects. It revolved around the concepts of control, direct and react.
These ideas worked up to a point, because there existed the need for people to be guided and directed in what they actually had to accomplish. People needed to be controlled because that was the only way they would get the job done. Managers needed to be direct because their subordinates needed instructions and weren’t paid to think or be creative. And managers needed to react because so many things happened that they hadn’t planned for.
Fast forward a few years, and the Gen Y and Millennials have completely changed the working environment we were used to back then. William A. Draves and Julie Coates, authors of Nine Shift: Work, Life and Education in the 21st Century, write that Millennials have distinctly different behaviors, values and attitudes from previous generations as a response to the technological and economic implications of the Internet. This means that the way they need to be managed has changed as well.
The new paradigm revolves around leading, enabling and responding.
This involves changing the thought process from an attitude of control and autocracy to one of leading and developing. People want to be considered for growth opportunities, and will leave companies very quickly if their chances to progress are stunted. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be promoted every six months, but it does mean they have to see themselves growing in terms of knowledge, responsibility and flexibility. The days have gone where people just abide by their job description. They want challenges and opportunities that will inspire, excite and enthuse them.
It also involves enabling people to progress through facilitation of key skills and talents. Managing talent is a key component to success in this world of lightening-speed change. How people see their future will play a vital part in the effort and motivation they bring to their role.
Lastly, there is a difference between reacting and responding. The old way of managing involved reacting to what was happening, like keeping many plates spinning all at once. The new leadership philosophy is one of responding to situations, which involves seeing what is happening, determining the resources required to deal with it, analysing what lessons can be learned from it and determining how we can stop it from happening again.
In other words, the new leader asks what lessons can be learned from what is happening to their businesses, and how they can plan for the future around those occurrences.
So, think about how you have developed as a manager over the years and ask yourself if you have embraced the new leadership philosophy or are you still dealing with matters in the old style of management.
Head of Training
Originally published: 30 April, 2014