How 40 years taught me managementBY CHRIS FENNEY
“Life can only be lived by going forward – but only understood by looking backwards.”
There are not many advantages in growing old but one of them lies in reflecting on the experiences one may have had and considering the implications.
I have been either practicing, teaching, consulting or training in management for over forty years and would like to share my reflections on the changes in organizational life I have lived through.
The first major change has been the move from an autocratic and authoritative management style where all decisions were unilaterally made by the boss to an increasingly participative and consultative style of management where members of staff are involved in the management processes.
It has been a move from “I” to “We” where power is based on influence not authority, where respect and trust has to be earned and no longer an assumption of rank.
In today’s business world it is no longer good enough to merely deliver the results, you have to inspire and motivate those around you. Managing and leading teams is now the bedrock of successful modern organizations.
Accompanying the above has been a significant move from the concept of managing people to that of leading people, from the management principles of planning, organizing, and controlling to the leadership principles of sharing the vision, empowering, motivating and inspiring others.
It seems to me we are moving from the old world of transactional management to the new world of transformational leadership where, as well as being concerned with the here and now day to day operational management of our organizations, we need to consider tomorrow's business and how we need to meet the changing needs of our organisations, marketplace, customers and employees.
Transformational leadership requires us to take risks, think creatively and courageously, be decisive, create and communicate the vision of where we are going and how we are going to get there.
Within my lifetime we have moved from a relatively stable business world to a far more hazardous and turbulent environment where change is the only constant, where jobs for life have disappeared, where the iron rice bowl has gone forever.
Managers must deal with complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty. At the same time the pressures are increasing.
Management has never been easy but in modern organizations the demands to increase performance, cut costs, meet demanding targets, all with reduced headcount and budget, has never been greater.
Our organizations are also becoming increasingly complex. When I started work reporting structures were relatively simple and straightforward. Now they may be much more complicated with the emergence of matrix management systems involving employees reporting to several managers at the same time.
Our organizations are becoming flatter, leaner, smaller, more dispersed, and more global. Remote management is becoming a major issue for some companies.
We have moved from the world of IQ to the World of EQ. Managers have to be aware of their own emotional intelligence and the need to develop interpersonal skills.
Twenty years ago if you hit your targets within your budget you could manage as you pleased. Not anymore. High IQ low EQ spells disaster in modern organizations. We have also become more multi-cultural and diverse in our work populations which in turn brings new business pressures when managing people.
Finally managers are facing the problems of managing generation X and Y. These younger men and women are radically different from their parents and have to be managed in a more enlightened way than the past.
What then are the implications for managers today? I suspect that the role of the manager has radically changed over the decades. They must truly be aware that people matter, develop a willingness to continually learn and develop new skills to enhance their versatility, understand that change starts with themselves and be ready to act as role model for change.
They must become enthusiastic and passionate in training and coaching subordinates committed to developing their potential. It seems to me that the new role of a manager is that of a coach, a mentor, a supervisor that can nurture and develop talent.
Managers must learn to delegate more and actually have the courage to do it. Managers must have a greater awareness of their own strengths and development needs and be prepared to work on these.
Lifelong learning is no longer a buzz word, it is a continuous never ending process of self development. Be aware of what is really important in terms of career and personal life. Stay flexible, remain open, become curious and enjoy the job. Your forty years pass in the blink of an eye.
Chris Fenney, Co-founder and Director of Training Edge International