Now, more than ever before in the history of business, leaders are needed for making a difference to the constituencies they address, the customers, shareholders, and the employees. We are witnessing a transformational phase, with a new world order shaping both socially, as well as economically.
The way global businesses run, may become Increasingly leaner, networked yet “Glocal”. Local supply chains, with local manufacturing, following a global standard and technological backing, is going to fast emerge as the new globalization mantra in the next few decades. This, of course, is powered by a large trust deficit between nations, that may continue to exist in the times to come, often creating bigger rifts among nations, as we have been witnessing in Asia and even Americas of late.
On the other hand, digital revolution is slowly transforming workplaces to be largely “manager-free”. As work transforms, workplace loose their meaning in the context we understand it today. On one hand, there is a larger play of automation, mechanization and robotization that is driving the physical work setting, reducing the need for human intervention and supervision. And on the other hand, mental work, a forte of humans and particularly, the “middle-management” workforce of an organization, is slowly being handed over to digital and cyber-physical systems through the Internet of Things. In such a scenario, we may witness a large part of the middle management population depleting over time.
The world of workplace is shaping as three large constituencies, as we look into the future – The Leader, The Expert and The Doer. “Manager” may no more be an important role, as industry becomes networked, woven, Glocal and increasingly powered by digital.
In most of the Agile terminology and lean systems that more and more organizations are adopting – the way organizations are structured need to have a thorough re-look. We need to literally evaluate the entire value chain of creating and managing an organization through managers. Business leaders may need to increasingly think of “Organizing” rather than “Organization” – a favourite subject of managers for decades.
So also, is the new age worker changing in the shape and form. The new age worker is far more autonomous, multi-skilled and is no more working only for the money she earns. She is looking for more purposeful work, that contributes to her development as also in someway to the world around her. Managing a new-age worker, through existing management philosophies, literally means injustice to your organization. You may end up killing innovation and the renewal of your organization. The proverbial S-curve may soon take over your organization, flattening your business, from where renewal will be quite tough.
So, why do businesses need to invest on Leadership? Because the glue that bound the “organization” was the hierarchy of managers and their processes and systems, driven by levels of authority thus far. As this managerial glue, becomes less relevant for the new world order – it needs to be replaced by a glue of inspiration. To attract, retain and develop the new-age “doer”, creating autonomous systems, open & gig-powered work, and workplace would be needed.
So, what is the constitution of this leadership? And what constitutes leadership development? How to create leadership that replaces the managerial and bureaucratic glue? Where to invest for creating leaders, rather than managers in an organization? Sounds almost like a Design Thinking challenge. We need a lot of fresh thinking into creating organizations that are ready for the market and internal realities of an organization.
Sometimes we have a habit of over-complicating leadership as a subject, and it may well be one of the most researched management subjects in the last century. However, if we slice deeper, there are three key pillars, we need to groom leaders on, when it comes to enabling the doers and experts in the organization, as the other two constituencies.
- Creating Networks – Leader’s job is to set and create self-sustaining networks within organization to fasten the decision-making process. Visualize each work-handle as a networked possibility. Which set of people would be able to work fastest on the required outcomes. Enable the network, by bringing right experts and doers, who can turn work around faster. Leaders need to keep “Agility” as the core-principle of the network.
- Creating a psychologically safe workplace – Focus on bringing psychological safety, not competition. The first principle of any network is trust. Trust requires people to collaborate, rather than compete. Removing the barriers of mistakes & mutual competition and valuing contribution is the second key that constitutes great leadership.
- Being a source of Purpose – Inspiration is a key requirement of the new workplace. Without inspiration, work will seldom move forward in a networked workplace, as the work itself is more and more autonomous. People still draw inspiration from influencers and leaders. So, in that sense, the leader is the source of influence and inspiration towards the larger goals and objectives set out for individual members, teams, and the organization alike.
The achievement of a business is directly proportional to how its human capital is contributing and developing. It is an essential liability of leaders to guarantee that workforce is constantly learning and developing to become sharper, smarter, and agile. On the other hand, as societies and economies change, these same skills are also applied outwards to create higher stickiness for the organization in local communities. And that is exactly why investing in leadership development and leadership, must be a key priority of an organizations today.
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