As the world of work continues to change, so do the qualities and characteristics of the managers who are going to be leading our companies. Work is not the same as it used to be and we are seeing dramatic changes in both behaviour and technology, not just in our personal lives but in our professional lives. This means that just because managers were successful in the past doesn’t mean they will be successful in the future. When it comes to evolving in the way we work, managers need to possess five qualities to help their organizations change and succeed.
Follow from the front
The future management model is all about removing roadblocks from the paths of employees in order to help them succeed. This extends beyond managing people to empowering and engaging people. The traditional idea of management was based on leading by fear and the notion of command and control. Employees used to work hard to allow their managers to succeed and now it’s the managers’ turn to make sure their employees succeed. Employees are the most valuable asset that any organization has. In the past, managers said “jump” and the employees said, “how high?” Now, the managers are jumping with employees.
This isn’t the same as technical expertise. It’s not important for managers to all of a sudden become information technology professionals. However, managers do need to understand the overall technology landscape and how it is having an impact on the way we work. This means having a good pulse of what is happening in the consumer Web as well as understanding which social and collaborative technologies are making their way into the enterprise and what the implications of that are. Managers who have a good understanding of what is happening with technology will always be able to adapt and evolve ahead of the competition.
Lead by example
It used to be good enough for managers to say they supported something. A manager would just need to approve the budget and say, “Go for it.” When it comes to collaboration and the future of work, that is no longer enough. Managers need to commit to more than just funding collaboration. They need to be the ones on the ground level using the same tools that the rest of the employees are using. There is no way that employees can change and evolve (nor should they) unless they see their managers doing the same.
This goes hand in hand with being open and transparent. Our organizations were modelled after the military and if there’s one thing that a commander wasn’t, that was vulnerable. However, times have changed and we aren’t running our organizations like the military any more. People go their whole lives (especially men) learning how to be the opposite of vulnerable, holding up a “shield” to keep people from seeing us when we are vulnerable. However, Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, says that vulnerability is about having the courage to show up and be seen. According to Ms. Brown, “Vulnerability is the absolute heartbeat of innovation and creativity. There can be zero innovation without vulnerability.” Being vulnerable isn’t about being weak, it’s about being courageous, a key quality that every manager must have.
Belief in sharing
Traditionally, managers sat at the top of the organization and had access to all of the information required to make decisions. Managers would dole out the orders and the employees had to execute on those orders without asking any questions. Today, managers cannot believe in hoarding information but in sharing information and collective intelligence. Managers need to make sure that the employees can connect to each other and to the information they need to get their jobs done, any time, anywhere, and on any device. Managers now rely on employees to help make decisions instead of isolating them from this process.